Experience The Frecce Tricolori’s Rome Flyover In This Stunning 4k 360-degree Cockpit Video

A screenshot from the 360-degree video. (Image credit: ItAF)

The Italian Air Force aerobatic display team performed the flyover over a desert Rome during the Italy’s “Liberation Day” celebrations.

On Apr. 25, 2020, Italy celebrated the 75th anniversary of the country’s liberation from fascism and nazi occupation in WWII.

While the streets in Rome remained empty due to the coronavirus lockdown, the skies over Italy’s Capital were painted red, white, and green by the traditional flyover by Italian Air Force’s Frecce Tricolori team.

Shortly after 15.00 LT, the team’s nine MB-339A/PAN jets, coming from their homebase at Rivolto, in northeastern Italy, made a flypast over the Rome’s Altar of the Fatherland and then flew for a few minutes with a tricolour smoke trail over a desert Eternal City before landing at Pratica di Mare airbase, a few kilometers to the southwest of Rome.

The Italian Air Force has also shared an amazing 360-degree 4K video that lets viewers watch the flyover from inside the cockpit of one of the jets: you can see the approach from the IP (Initial Point) to the Vittoriano in Rome City Center and the transformation of the formation from “big wing” to diamond. You also get an idea of how close the aircraft are one another.

The flyover was filmed and photographed by thousand people from their homes and the images of the Italian flag painted in the sky by the team quickly spread through the social networks: as happened in March, when the clip of the Italian Air Force display team performing their trademark final maneuver went viral all around the world to such an extent even President of the United States used it for a message of encouragement to Italy, the Frecce Tricolori once again proved to be a morale booster this tough period reaffirming their role as a symbol of unity.

The Frecce’s flyover was one of the few events allowed on Apr. 25 to celebrate the Liberatioon Day. In the morning, a lonely Italy’s President Sergio Mattarella, wearing a face mask, paid the Tribute at Tomb of Unknown Soldier, guarded by a few Carabinieri (Military Policemen) keeping a few meters’ distance from one another in accordance with the social distancing guidelines imposed by the spread of Covid-19. The ceremony usually gathers many attendees, including civilian and military authorities.

Here’s an excerpt from our last post about the Frecce Tricolori, that provides some background details about the World’s largest military display team (by the way, flyovers are carried out by 9 out of 10 aircraft of the team; the full display includes also the solo aircraft).

For those who don’t know them, the Italian Frecce Tricolori are one of the world’s most famous display teams. They also hold several records.

First of all the team’s size: the Italians are the only ones to fly with 10 aircraft.

Another peculiary which makes the Frecce (also known as PAN – Pattuglia Acrobatica Nazionale – Italian for National Aerobatic Team) unique is the fact that the whole display is executed in sight of the public. Separations, transformations and rejoins are always performed in front of the spectators, a circumstance which requires absolute preciseness in all phases of the display.

By the way: another record accomplished by the Frecce Tricolori is the fact that they separate into two formations (one flight of 5 and another of 4 aircraft) which then fly an opposition pass and subsequently rejoin in less than two minutes. Rejoin time is a factor that can influence deeply a flying display.

One more peculiarity of the PAN is the Downward Bomb Burst, a maneuver which has been part of the Pattuglia’s tradition since its creation, having been part of the Italian Air Force heritage for 90 years now. It is a maneuver in which the aircraft, starting from a high altitude and in formation, dive towards the ground and then separate into 9 individual elements which depart in different directions, finally returning for an opposition pass, at three different levels, over the same point. This is a very spectacular and complex manoeuvre, which no one else is capable of reproducing, especially due to the difficulty in opposition passing and rejoining in the very short time frames required for a display.

The other record of the Frecce Tricolori is tied to the Solo’s Lomçovak. This is a display which is typically executed by propeller aircraft, and foresees a “standing roll” followed by a vertical spin, reverse and subsequent aircraft pitch down. Such a manoeuvre is usually “outside the flight envelope” for most jet aircraft, but the PAN’s Solo pilot can execute it in complete safety, thanks to the outstanding handling capabilities of the MB.339.

The aircraft the team flies is the PAN variant of the single engine tandem seat training and tactical support aircraft. Apart from the livery, it differs from the standard model serving with the Aeronautica Militare’s 61° Stormo (Wing) at Galatina (Lecce) airbase by the presence onboard of the coloured smokes generation system; this device is controlled by two buttons: one on the stick, for white smoke, and one on the throttle for coloured smoke. The system is fed from an under wing fuel tank filled with a colouring agent which is discharged through nozzles placed in the jet exhaust. The agent, vaporised in the jet exhaust, produces a coloured trail. Another PAN aircraft peculiarity is that in order to enhance manoeuvrability along the aircraft longitudinal (roll) axis, and to reduce wing loading, it flies with no tip tanks. These are cylindrical 510 litre tanks which are only mounted on the aircraft for long-range ferry flights. They are replaced by an ad hoc wingtip fairing which covers the wingtip tank attachment points. Since 2002, the PAN also received Mid Life Updated MB.339s. This MLU programme has integrated the previous series models with updated structural features and avionics, such as GPS, formation flying position lights, a new V/UHF radio equipped with a new tail antenna, in addition to reinforced nose and tail. The MB.339 has equipped the PAN since 1982, when it replaced the FIAT G.91, a light fighter bomber aircraft which entered service with the Frecce Tricolori in 1963. The MB.339A/PAN will be replaced by the M-345 HET (High Efficiency Trainer).


About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.