With just a few days to spare before the Aeronautica Militare Italiana (Italian Air Force, AMI) 100th-anniversary airshow at Pratica di Mare Air Base, Fiat G.91 (MM6305) flew on Wednesday, June 14th. For the special occasion, the pilot selected to test the G.91 (and eventually fly it at the centenary airshow) was Maurizio Lodovisi who also test-flew Renzo Catellani’s MB-326K.
Originally planned for yesterday, that flight was canceled due to minor snags identified, and which were quickly fixed by the specialists of the Italian Air Force. Today Maurizio Ludovisi took from San Damiano Air Base in northern Italy, chased by Renzo Catellani in his MB-326. As shown in the video below, the ‘Gina’ flew for about 30 minutes before returning safely back to the base.“The airplane is flying beautifully, just amazing given the circumstances!” said Catellani.
This project first saw light in February 2021, while the actual work began in January 2022, as we reported here, thanks to a collaboration between Callegari Srl and the Aeronautica Militare Italiana. Technicians and specialists involved have come, in particular, from the Italian Air Force’s Distaccamento Aeroportuale di Piacenza, the NVPA (Nucleo Valorizzazione Patrimonio Aeronautico) of Piacenza San Damiano, 1st Aircraft Maintenance Department of Cameri (Novara), from the 3rd Aircraft Maintenance and Armament Department at Treviso, from the 6th Wing at Ghedi, and from the 61st Wing at Galatina (Lecce). The support of the ACS company and other small and medium-sized Italian companies has also been vital.
The aircraft itself served as MM6305 within the Italian Air Force; the MM standing for Matriola Militare (the military serial number). The G.91’s restoration has been divided between two locations. Catellani and his team worked on the fuselage, avionics, and hydraulic systems in Reggio Emilia, while personnel from AMI worked on the wings and tail section of the aircraft. It is undergoing a repaint into the colors of ‘PONY 10’ (as below) the airplane flow by legendary aerobatic pilot G.B. Molinaro with Italian Aerobatic Team the Frecce Tricolori (Tricolor Arrows).The Fiat G.91 is a significant type in Italian and European aviation, being the winner of the NATO-organised NBMR-1 competition in 1953 for a ‘Light Weight Strike Fighter’. First flying in 1956, it served not only with the Aeronautica Militare Italiana but also the West German Luftwaffe and the Força Aérea Portuguesa (Portuguese Air Force). Evaluation examples served with the Greek and US Air Forces as well. 756 were produced over a period of nearly 20 years, the last being retired in 1995. On June 16-17-18, 2023, the Aeronautica Militare Italiana will celebrate its 100th anniversary with an airshow at Pratica di Mare Air Base, Italy’s largest military airfield, located in Pomezia, Lazio on the Tyrrhenian coast just south of Rome.