The Frecce Tricolori and the pride of Italy in the world

The Frecce Tricolori, whose full name is the National Aerobatic Patrol, constituting the 313th Acrobatic Training Group, are the Italian aerobatic acrobatic team (PAN), born in 1961 following the decision of the Italian Air Force to create a group permanent training for the collective aerial acrobatics of its pilots.

With ten planes, nine of which in training and one solo, they are the most numerous acrobatic team in the world, and their flight program, including about twenty acrobatics and lasting about half an hour, has made them the most famous.

Since 1982 they have used the Aermacchi MB.339 A / PAN MLU as aircraft, and the headquarters are the Rivolto airport (UD).


It all started in Campoformido:

What is commonly considered the act of birth of aerial acrobatics in Italy, is the assumption of the command of the 1st Stormo Caccia by the ten.col.Rino Corso Fougier.

The date is September 1, 1928, the place the Campoformido airport, in the heart of Friuli Venezia Giulia. Fougier is the bearer of an innovative idea, that acrobatics must be an indispensable part of the military pilot’s training.

According to Fougier, in fact, in order to achieve maximum effectiveness in the military use of the airplane, a military pilot must acquire mastery, sensitivity and coordination in any flight arrangement. Exactly what allows acrobatic flight. But the newly regia Aeronautica struggles to accept these new ideas that, instead, find fertile ground in Campoformido. Memorable was the demonstration provided in spring 1928 by three pilots of the 1st Wing, who launch their biplanes CR.1 in audacious looping in training on the field.

To overcome the distrust of those who see in the “boys” of Campoformido the “acrobats of the sky”, Fougier needs, however, the support of the Armed Force. The opportunity comes in July 1929.

To welcome the two US aviators protagonists of the first air link between North America and Rome, Italo Balbo thinks, in fact, of an exhibition of the 1st Wing that the “guys of Campoformido” develop in just twenty-four hours, having to use the new CR.20 fighter with whom they have never flown before! It is a triumph and, in short, a school of acrobatics is born in Campoformido, destined to collect acclaim in Italy and abroad.

With the CR.20 you pass from the couple to the section of three airplanes but the lack of radio complicates and things. To the “boys of Campoformido” is entrusted with the grand finale of the 1st Wing Day of June 8, 1930. 15 CR.20 divided into three formations evolve on the airport of the Littorio in an extraordinary carousel.

For the first time a figure is made to enter the myth of Italian collective acrobatics. It is the “bomb”. Five biplanes, in a wedge formation, dive into the targets. The cabra capoformazione and performs a complete looping, while the wingmen are pulled out, overturning, to dive again. Their trajectories intersect, like that, with those of the other training aircraft. The maneuver is repeated three times, with a highly spectacular effect.

After a year sabbatical accomplice, the atmosphere of “war” and the climate of austerity, the patrol of the fourth flock on CR32 debuts on March 28, 1936 on the 4th day of the Wing.

To evolve there are no more airplanes within the same formation, but two sections of five biplanes interacting with each other.


The premises for the creation of the PAN, the National Aerobatic Team, are thrown on March 1, 1961, on the Rivolto air base, at which the General Staff of Aeronautics establishes the Special Acrobatic Team, (from 1 July 313st Group Acrobatic Training), which, in the intentions of the Italian Air Force, must perfect the specific training of the pilots, avoiding dispersing their precious experiences.

The new department, called the Special Unit, was set up in Rivolto, a few kilometers from that stretch of Campoformido that at the end of the 20s had witnessed the birth of our first acrobatic patrols. The original nucleus around which Unity develops is the patrol of the 4th Aerobrigata, already designated as a “titular” formation for 1961. In fact the aircraft with which, on March 3, the first six pilots assigned reach Rivolto have all on tail the emblem of the “Prancing Horse”.

They are CL.13 Saber Mk.4, which is the version licensed in Canada of the F-86E of North American, already used by the “Prancing Horse” and “Lanceri Neri” patrols.

 Other airplanes arrive and, on May 1, what is already called the National Aerobatic Team is ready for the first official exit on the Trento airport.

On 1 July the department officially became 313 ° Acrobatic Training Group.

For the season 1961 F-86E fly information of six .. They are equipped with smoke system and on the dark blue fuselage show a large blue rhombus containing a black arrow, a livery that for the season 1962 is supplanted by a scheme of coloring far more family, with the unmistakable three white red green arrows that stand out on the nacelle and the progressive number shown in yellow on the tail.The team now acquired its identity, were born the “Frecce Tricolori”.


28 August 1988 A date impressed in the mind of all lovers of Italian flight and patrol. During the Airshow Flugtag ’88 in the NATO base of Ramstein in Germany one of the worst accidents occurred during an air show. The incident occurred during the performance of the Frecce Tricolori, when the Italian acrobatic team was preparing to complete the figure called ” Cardioid “. To provoke the disaster was the collision in flight between the three Aermacchi MB-339PAN piloted by the Lieutenant Colonel Ivo Nutarelli (Pony 10 of the training), Lieutenant Colonel Mario Naldini (Pony 1, head patrol) and Captain George Alessio (Pony 2) . While planes number 1 and 2 crashed onto the runway, the number 10 hit the crowd causing 67 victims and 346 injured in the spectators. Following the accident the security measures were modified: the minimum distances from the spectators were increased and the height at which to perform the acrobatics. The photograph of a previous 1987 air show demonstrates that no safety barriers were placed between the public and the runway; the existing rules included a minimum distance of 400 meters based on the type of aircraft; the figures executed above the crowd were forbidden; all the maneuvers had to be approved by the authority. In 1992 the Group will risk in the United States for a long tour; the five hundred years of the discovery of America occurred. In 1995 the first tour of the “Frecce Tricolori” in Eastern Europe, in 2002 those in Syria and in Oman. In 2003 the Patrol performs for the first time in Russia, on Zhukovsky Airport (Moscow). In 2004 the “Frecce Tricolori” is the first acrobatic team to perform in Beirut after the war. In 2005 they won the “King Hussein” trophy. Memorial Sword “as the best display for the Air Tattoo in Fainford, Great Britain. In 1995 and 2001 the” Frecce Tricolori “were invited to the Arab countries: in Kuwait, in the United Arab Emirates and in Qatar. During the Olympics Turin’s PAN laps, on Rivolto’s sky, the 5 Olympic circles underlined by the tricolor fumes. The video will be used by RAI as a spot for the presentation of the event. The Frecce Tricolori draw in the sky the five Olympic circles underlined by the green, white and red of the Italian flag. The realization of the figure required special training as the pilots performed a maneuver at about 1800 meters above sea level and at a speed of about 150 knots with extended flaps to allow greater maneuverability of the aircraft. On 10 July of the same year, the PAN welcomes the national football team to Pratica di Mare victorious at the World Championships in Germany. Signed for the 2008 “Leonardo Award” for the career, for the promotion of the national image, on September 1, 2009 the “Frecce Tricolori” perform for the first time in Libya, in Tripoli, while in mid-November I’m at the aerospace show in Dubai. On the 5th and 6th of September 2015 PAN celebrated its 55th anniversary with an international rally based on Rivolto in which Saudi Arabia, Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Jordan, Holland, Poland, Spain, Switzerland and Turkey took part. The tricolor laid out during the maneuver of the “Alona” is the largest and most extended tricolor of the world and depending on the direction of the wind reaches up to 5km in length

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *