Aeronautics centenary: the 2023 celebrations officially kick off

(To air Force)

It was the extraordinary Salone dei Cinquecento, in the heart of Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, that hosted the first of the major events on Wednesday 15 February as part of the celebrations for the centenary of the establishment of the Armed Forces, which will take place on 28 March 2023.

A path that could not fail to start from history, from that thin thread that unites events to the men and women who have been the protagonists, up to the sacrifice of one's life in many cases.

A historic symposium which, iconically taking up the motto of the Centenary "in flight towards the future", intended to retrace together with experts from the military, academic and journalistic world, the most significant moments of these first hundred years of history of the Armed Forces: from its origins, closely linked to the pioneers of flight and the surprising developments of the aircraft at the beginning of the 900s, up to the role and capabilities that the Air Force is able to express today nationally and internationally, with an eye to the new domains of the aerospace and cyber dimension.

The event, organized by the Institute of Aeronautical Military Sciences of Florence, was attended by the leaders of the Armed Forces, the highest local authorities and a large number of secondary school students from all over the country.

Doing the honors were the president of the Tuscany Region, Eugenio Giani, and the mayor of Florence, Dario Nardella, who underlined the indissoluble link between the Tuscan capital and the Air Force and thanked the Armed Forces for having chosen Florence as the exceptional location of the first great centenary celebration event.

The one in Florence, in the sign of Leonardo da Vinci, is the first of the many events that the Armed Forces is planning in this 2023 to tell its past but with an eye firmly turned to the future, above all - as the head of state underlined major in the Air Force, general of the air force Luca Goretti - to the younger generations. “History is the key element that makes a people grow - he said - studying history allows us to remember the values ​​and traditions of our aeronautical past, understand the present and project ourselves into the future with greater awareness. Our strength has always been to dare and I tell the young people and students present here to learn to dare, to look forward with courage, with team spirit, motivation and with a hunger for culture”.

The historical symposium retraced the most significant moments of the first hundred years of the Air Force's life, through six discussion panels with interventions by experts from the military, academic and journalistic worlds.

1. The origins of flight: from Leonardo Da Vinci to the Wright brothers

“We are about to tell the journey of man towards flight, a path that originates in a historical phase in which taking one's feet off the ground seemed impossible for man, something that would never have been achievable, yet, at a certain point, Something is changed". With these words, Alessadro Barbero, full professor at the University of Eastern Piedmont, launched the first discussion panel of the event, of which he was the moderator. "In this primordial phase of aviation, there were numerous flight attempts developed by man" continued Alberto Angela, paleontologist naturalist and one of the best known scientific communicators of our country, "but the result was only reached when three fundamental elements have aligned: ingenuity, materials and courage.”
Impossible, in retracing the development of flight, not to dwell on "one of the most complex figures in the history of humanity, a perfect marriage between art and science, as was that of Leonardo" continued Dr. Roberta Barsanti, director of the Leonardiani Museum and Library in Vinci "his studies of the solar systems and the flight of birds, the construction of various flying machines, the conception of the hang glider, have not only fascinated, they have left a fundamental contribution to the studies on the flight of the following centuries."
Chief Michele Palumbo, from the Pratica di Mare flight experimental department, closed the first panel with a technical analysis of the "heavier than air", the first motorized aircraft built and taken off , in 1, by the Wright brothers. “That first airplane, called the Flyer, made a leap forward of 37 meters lasting just 12 seconds, a leap forward that changed human history forever.”

Watch the live coverage of the speech, click here

2. Aviation companies and primates

The second discussion panel of the Symposium, moderated by Flavia Giacobbe, director of the magazines "Formiche" and "Air Press", wanted to tell the glorious records achieved by the Italians in the first post-war period, illustrating the aspects of the flight and logistic profile, inclusive of naval assets support.
“Today we tend to consider 1923 as a starting year, the foundation year of the Air Force – began the prof. Gregory Alegi, journalist and professor of military history – but at the time it was considered the final moment of a long debate that had already begun during the First World War, in which it began to be understood that aviation deserved greater autonomy and independence as an Armed Force".
Not by chance, “if it is true that the Wright brothers invented the airplane, the Great War invented aviation” continued Gen. sa (r) Alberto Rosso, former Chief of Staff of the Air Force, recounting the effort made by the Armed Forces in being able to acquire its autonomy and the difficulties encountered by the Regia Aeronautica in its first years of life. “But these are also the years of big business – concluded Gen. Rosso – Italy is the protagonist and achieves incredible results”.
To close the speech by Vincenzo Grienti, journalist and historian, with an overview of the great aviation enterprises of the time, from inverted flight to high-speed department, from the legendary Schneider Cup, to the feat of the Atlantic crossing. “The period between the two wars was an exciting period, in which Italy projected itself into the future, presenting itself abroad above all for its aviation industry.”

Watch the live coverage of the speech, click here

3. Aeronautical engineering – Focus on Guidoni and Broglio

The third panel, dedicated to two general engineers who were the first in the Air Force to explore pioneering and innovative solutions, was moderated by Gianandrea Gaiani, director of Defense Analysis and expert in historical-strategic analysis. "Alessandro Guidoni was an extraordinary figure who left an indelible mark in the history of the Air Force" General Giuseppe Lupoli, head of the aeronautical engineering corps and director of the directorate of aeronautical armaments and airworthiness of the Ministry of Defence, said at the opening. “A scientist, an aeronautical engineering expert, pilot pilot of both airplanes and seaplanes, Guidoni was a man who already at the time grasped elements that today, after 100 years, we still consider of fundamental importance.”
Giovanni Caprara, journalist of the Corriere della Sera, has instead drawn a portrait of Luigi Broglio, professor and general, responsible sixty years ago for the first launch of a satellite in our country. “People like Broglio – underlined Caprara – they had the courage to take on seemingly impossible feats and were driven by a boundless passion for what they were doing.”
“Innovation and technology have always been the common denominator of Leonardo and the Air Force” said Eng. at the end of the panel. Lucio Valerio Cioffi, general manager of Leonardo. “Continuous collaboration and the constant sharing of knowledge has led to important results over the years, allowing both parties to grow, projecting towards the future.”

Watch the live coverage of the speech, click here

4. The events that made history: the Gulf War

“The Gulf War represented an epochal moment in modern history, a watershed, as 11/1990 will be. The world before XNUMX, when Saddam Hussein's Iraq invaded Kuwait, was a world emerging from a conflict, from that Cold War considered by many to be the end of history. That world couldn't imagine what it was actually getting into": with these words, Toni Capuozzo, historic war correspondent and deputy director of TG5 Mediaset, opened the fourth panel, dedicated precisely to the participation of the Air Force in the Gulf War. At the center of the intervention, the testimonies of General Mario Arpino, former Chief of Staff of the Defense and of the Air Force, and at the time head of the AM contingent engaged in operations, and of General Gianmarco Bellini, who as known was the pilot of the Tornado which was shot down by Iraqi anti-aircraft during the night between 17 and 18 January 1991.
In analyzing the difficulties of a complex operating scenario such as this, with all the challenges imposed by an operating theater both culturally and geographically distant from Italy, Eng. Enzo Benigni, president of Elettronica, underlined how “the gulf war was the beginning of the change and the redemption of the Italian and European defence. Again, in conducting a conflict, air power had demonstrated its key role: that new awareness would have led, in the following years, to the development of a line of 4th generation aircraft, such as the Eurofighter .”

Watch the live coverage of the speech, click here

5. Defense of Italian and NATO airspace from the post-war period to the present day

The fifth panel, moderated by the journalist Maria Latella, focused on the evolution and importance of a political and military pact, that of the Atlantic Alliance, which more than 70 years after its birth appears to be extremely fundamental for the global security and stability.
General Giuseppe Mega, commander of the aerospace control brigade of the aerospace operations command of Poggio Renatico, and the ten. with the. Michele Nasto, of the 4th department of the Air Force General Staff, offered important food for thought on the emerging internal and external challenges of NATO, in the light of the changed global strategic framework.
At the end of the speech, the general knows (r) Leonardo Tricarico, former chief of staff of the Air Force and military adviser to the presidency of the council of ministers, in illustrating the current and future relevance of Italy in the international arena, highlighted as "Today the Air Force has an extraordinary Air Defense system, in which a process of continuous improvement is underway which will soon lead Italy to be more and more a leader, more and more integrated into this 'enlarged team' which can be considered NATO".

Watch the live coverage of the speech, click here

6. The aerospace dimension: astronaut testimony

The sixth and final panel, moderated by the journalist Vittorio Argento, was dedicated to flight beyond the atmosphere, that aerospace dimension which, as the Air Force motto "Virtute Siderum Tenus" also states, has represented the natural vocation of the Force since its origins Army.
Eng. Giorgio Saccoccia, president of theItalian Space Agency, he introduced the discussion by remarking on the historic and fruitful collaborative relationship between ASI and the Air Force, capable of giving a concrete boost to the entire Space sector at a national level, especially in the fields of research and innovation.
Two important testimonies in this area: that of Commander Maurizio Cheli, first test pilot officer at the experimental flight department of the Air Force and then astronaut of the European Space Agency, for which he will participate in the STS -1996 mission of the Space Shuttle program in 75, the first Italian to fill the role of Mission Specialist on the Shuttle Columbia.
This was followed by the speech by air brigadier general Roberto Vittori, also an RSV test pilot at the beginning of his career and then selected as an astronaut in 1998 by theItalian Space Agency. During his career, General Vittori has participated in three space missions: in 2002 he took part in the mission Marco Polo at the International Space Station; in 2005 he participated in a second taxi flight, the mission Aeneidpiloting a shuttle Soyuz TMA5, becoming the first European astronaut to achieve the qualification of Soyuz commander; finally, in 2011, it took off with the Shuttle mission STS-134 in the role of Mission Specialist.
The two exceptional speakers, with their testimonies, wanted to describe the many emotions, from fear to discovery, felt in flying beyond the atmosphere.

"We have tried to condense, in one day, a journey that lasted a hundred years where the founding basis is called passion, the desire to dare, research and curiosity" reiterated General Goretti at the end of the event. “Space is our future, it is your future” continued the chief of staff addressing the many young people present, "We have the obligation to transfer to you the maximum of our knowledge, our opportunities and our gratitude for all those who in these hundred years have made it possible to make the Air Force and the Ministry of Defense great through teamwork with Industry, University and Research".

Watch the live coverage of the speech, click here