While it is only tangentially linked to the world of warbirds (through it’s military variants), we are happy to report on the preservation of a significant Douglas DC-9 airliner at the Volandia aviation museum near Milan, Italy. This is the very same Alitalia DC-9 that the victorious Azzurri, the Italian national soccer team, flew home on after winning the 1982 World Cup. The aircraft was due to be scrapped, but Alitalia and Volandia worked out a deal to save the historic airliner. “We are very happy that this story will end in the best way,” said the chairman of Alitalia, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, “Alitalia has always tried to prevent a symbol of national memory [from being] lost. In that shot (below) some of the figures are represented most loved and dear to all Italians.”
Alitalia purchased the DC-9 from Boeing in 2007, which in turn had received it from the Italian Air Force. Placed in a hangar, Alitalia intended to use the aircraft in its maintenance school. However, with upgrades to its fleet in 2010, a DC-9 was no longer relevant to Alitalia, so they upgraded to a more modern airframe for the school. However Alitalia, did not want to dismantle their historic airliner, and kept it in Fiumicino. Between 2013 and 2015, three different organizations (a museum, a business and a training institute) showed interest in the aircraft, but all of these options eventually fell through, due mostly to the logistical difficulties involved.
Alitalia chose Volandia, in part, because no other museum would preserve the aircraft in its entirety. While the museum’s foundation only dates to 2010, Volandia is in many ways one of the most significant aviation museums in Italy, being located within the original buildings of the legendary Caproni aircraft company. The museum is home to more than forty aircraft spanning from the very early days of flight until the present day. ‘Gianni’ Caproni himself tested some of his earliest designs on the museum’s grounds back in 1908. The DC-9, with its important national history, will be a huge draw for Volandia. It is good to see an important airliner type in preservation too, as so very few will be saved due to their large size.