FLYING WITH ITALIAN AIR FORCE 70th WING: WHERE PILOTS BORN

The Italian Air Force's Flight School is a an international excellence in the military pilots training.

Italian Air Force T-260B Trainer Aircraft

Every year, about 8,000 young Italians follow their dream of becoming a military pilot, but after a hard selection, only 45 of them can access the first training phase that takes place at the 70th Wing of Latina, Italy. The 70th Wing of the Italian Air Force provides to ascertain the attitude to flight and releases the pilot license through training on T-260B propeller aircraft.

Candidates arrive at the 70th Wing after having passed the psycho-attitudinal tests at the Air Force Academy to face the final stage. It consists in overcoming the flight course that allows them to get the golden eagle.

After passing this stage, students can begin the hard training process to obtain the military pilot license. It is divided into several phases: the first one is carried out at the 70th Wing on the T-260B. This phase aims to consolidate the previously learned maneuvers and achieve an adequate mastery of the aircraft in the execution of acrobatic maneuvers, flight in formation and management of simulated emergencies.

FLIGHT EXPERIENCE

During my visit to the 70th Wing, I had the opportunity to experience what a young aspiring pilot feels during their first flight. I took part in a training mission consisting of three T-260Bs belonging to the 207th Flying Squadron.

The pre-flight phase that I like best is the dressing: I felt a strong emotion when I wore the flight suit, helmet and the classic blue parachute (a standard for aircraft without ejection seat).

After the breifing meteo, I reached the assigned plane together with the instructor pilot who took me on flight: "it's time to get on board", I thought! The cockpit of the T-260B is very small (especially for a person of my height and not too small), but suited to the role of the aircraft.

While the pilot was doing the visual inspections of the plane, I checked the best spots from which to take photographs: fortunately the plane has a large canopy that offers good visibility outside.

The ground crew has repeatedly indicated to me the presence of the appropriate bag in case of vomiting, "some students suffer from ketosis," they said.

The pilot started the engine and the plane could not stay still, it had a great desire to take flight! The instructor made the last checks before taking the taxiway followed by the other two aircraft.


Pushed the engine, started the run! The aircraft immediately showed a considerable boost for its category and after a few hundred meters detached the wheels off the ground. The pilot immediately made a sharp turn to the right and then realign the plane along the runway in order to allow me to follow the take-off of the other two aircraft. Everything was perfectly synchronized as well as alignment with the other planes during the flight.


It was amazing to see how the distances between the T-260s were always so perfect, everything was handled by eye, without the aid of digital systems.



I kept taking pictures of the pair of aircraft while flying over the sea, everything seemed to go the best way; my problems started during acrobatic maneuvers. Nothing "excessive" compared to what students normally perform during the exam, but my head began to become heavy and the stomach upside down because of turbulence.


I admired the two aircraft ahead of us running some tonneau and intersections. I wanted to try these maneuvers, but I probably would have compromised the report because of the vomit!

I was impressed by the performance of the T-260B, a made in Italy jewel that looks a lot like a jet.






After about one flight hour it was time to go back: we followed the other two planes as they approached the runway to photograph the landing stages.

Then it was our time: we did a touch and go (I had always wanted to do it) and then landed.

My flight experience has been completed. Flying with the T-260B made me better understand the training faced by a young pilot, but it also showed me the skills of the Italian Air Force instructors: their great ability to fly the plane makes everyone feel at ease.

I wish to thank the Italian Air Force Press Office, the Public Affairs Officer Lt. Paolo Pezone, the respective commanders of the 70th Wing and 207th Flight Sqn. and all flight and ground crews who assisted me during the report.

Written by Matteo Sanzani


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