Frecce Tricolori North American Tour 2024 Just Announced

Frecce Tricolori North America tour
The Frecce Tricolori during their traditional final pass. (Image credit: Author)

In 2024, the Frecce Tricolori will visit U.S. and Canada for the first North American tour in more than 30 years.

On Nov. 23, 2023, during the presentation of the Italian Air Force 2024 calendar, Gen. Luca Goretti, the Chief of Staff of the Italian Air Force, announced that the Frecce Tricolori display team will return to North America next summer.

The team will fly over Canada, where RCAF (Royal Canadian Air Force) will celebrate the 100th anniversary next year, and then across the U.S. While no further details have been disclosed yet, Goretti said that the Frecce will also carry out a flyover and display over Los Angeles, to celebrate the arrival of the Amerigo Vespucci, the iconic full-rigged ship of the the Italian Navy (Marina Militare) which left Genoa harbor on a world tour on Jul. 1, 2023.

The North American tour is the third one across U.S. and Canada and the first in more than 30 years. The first tour took place in 1986 and the second one in 1992.

We will provide an update about the 2024 tour as soon as we gather more details.

The team

The Frecce Tricolori, also known as the Pattuglia Acrobatica Nazionale (PAN, Italian Aerobatic Team) is, undoubtedly, the most popular and visible component of the Italian Air Force as well as a symbol of Italy: with its 10 Italian built aircraft – the MB.339A/PAN – the “Frecce” (Italian for “Arrows”) – form one of the world’s most prestigious aerobatic teams. It holds a Guinness World record too: for the most jet aircraft in a military aerobatic display team.

The Italian Aerobatic Team is assigned to the 313° Gruppo Addestramento Acrobatico (Aerobatic Training Squadron) based at Rivolto Air Base, in northeastern Italy. The Frecce Tricolori are tasked with “representing the Air Force and Italy in both national and international air displays, and demonstrating, through the execution of collective aerobatic flight programmes, not only their professional and technical skills, but also the inventiveness and courage of an entire Armed Force and of Italy.”

The team has recently suffered an incident: on Sept. 16, 2023, one of the aircraft of the team crashed shortly after taking off from Turin Caselle airport, most probably as a consequence of a bird strike (the root cause of the mishap has not been disclosed yet, as the investigation is still in progress). While the pilot managed to eject from the plane, the wreckage of the aircraft slid along the ground breaking through the airport fence and hitting a car travelling on the road that runs alongside the airfield. Unfortunately a 5-year old girl was killed in the incident.

The MB-339

The team is equipped with the PAN version of the MB-339A, a single engine tandem seat training and tactical support aircraft. Apart from the livery (that, in the recent year, has been slightly modified to adopt special tails), the 313° Gruppo aircraft differ from the standard model serving with the Aeronautica Militare 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.

One of the Frecce’s MB-339 with the 2021 special tail. (Image credit: Giovanni Maduli)

The MB-339 will be replaced by the M-345 (T-345 according to the Italian MOD Mission Design Series) in the future, even though a official plan for the retirement of the type has not been confirmed.

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.