The fifth annual Historical Aircraft Group’s (HAG) HAG Fly Party was held recently at the historic Montagnana Airfield in Montagnana, Italy. The air show saw the field invaded with the best of the best of the Mediterranean historic aircraft scene, infused with the colors, sounds and emotion of landmark aircraft in flight for the record-setting crowds.
Luciano Pontolillo Reports:
The two-day event hosted airplanes, gliders, helicopters, ultralights, and aerobatic teams, and more than 60 vintage aircraft. While bad weather over part of Europe prevented the arrival of some of the participants from across the Alps, there were nonetheless planes that made it in from Germany and Switzerland, and even a crew that made it all the way from Malta in a Piper PA-28 Cherokee that had the Fly Party logo painted on its fuselage, and assisted by the inclement weather to the north, took home the award for furthest distance flown to attend the event.
This year’s event was also host to the first meeting devoted to airplanes designed by the legendary aeronautical engineer and aircraft designer, Stelio Frati. The Stelio Frati Airplane Meeting (SFAM) saw many of his landmark designs on display and celebrated his extraordinary career and the success of his designs. One of his notable planes was the Aermacchi SF.260, and there were four of them on display. During the flight demonstrations of the SF.260’s, what appeared to be impossible occurred, when the four planes suddenly fell together to perform a seemingly impromptu precision aerobatics display, carrying out a series of complicated steps and maneuvers, wingtip to wingtip, garnering an enormous and enthusiastic response from the crowds below who were not expecting much more than flyovers and some solo aerobatics.
The mystery of the SF.260 display was solved when the planes landed and the pilots were reveled to be four former pilots of the Freece Tricolori, the Italian Air Force’s aerobatic exhibition team. These pilots, now retired, clearly have not lost a taste for flying, nor an
appreciable diminishment of their skills.
It would be impossible to list in detail all the participants of the event, but we want to mention in particular the highly appreciated performances of the The Swiss Pilatus Warbird aerobatic team, the P-3 Flyers and their Pilatus P-3s, the Blue Voltige aerobatic team in their Fournier RF-4s. The North American T-6 Texan piloted by Sandro Pagliarin gave a memorable performance if only for the ducking he caused when he decided to overfly the crowd decidedly “low,” leaving everyone wondering if their hair had been unexpectedly trimmed. Andrea Rossetto, the President of HAG, flew the Macchi MB.308, fresh from Le Bourget, where they were participating as part of the Alenia Aermacchi 100th anniversary exhibition at the Paris Air Show. Also of note was the weird and wonderfully improbable Aerogallo flying rooster plane. Another surprise guest was Renzo Catellani flying his Aermacchi MB.326 I-RVEG who decided to fly in for the party on his way home from the “environment-killing” Airpower Air Show in Austria, it was a real treat to see in person and in the air, the iconic plane on which Warbirds News recently reported.
As stated, this year’s event is the largest yet, and the success of this event is in large part due to the hard work done by AvioClub Montagnana through its many volunteers and the tireless and efficient Vittorio Frison. The event director, Sergio Maron, serving as the announcer was able to masterfully paint a compelling picture with his words, describing the aircraft which flew during the show, bringing tangible emotion to the color commentary he provided for the planes, some of which he himself flew during his many years of service in the Italian Air Force. Speaking of which, the Italian Air Force was present with a busy pavilion with the Chief Editor of the Italian Air Force Magazine, Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Cosci holding court within. The Padova Radar Club, irreplaceable and ever-present partner of HAG, must be thanked for the success of this event, and of course HAG itself which through events like the Fly Party, aims to keep the aviation culture alive and strong in Italy and preserves and enhances the historical, technological and cultural impact that classic airplanes represent.
Of course the event would amount to little if not for the pilots and owners of all the historic craft that participated and the thousands who showed up from all over Italy and across Europe at the airfield that WWII Ace, Gianlino Baschirotto made famous. The success of this year’s event has firmly established the HAG Fly Party as the premiere event of the Italian air show season.