New chapter in the story of Capt. Pinna, former Italian AMX pilot who flies USAF A-10

Pinna Italian AMX pilot A-10
Capt. Pinna, the former Italian AMX pilot who flies USAF A-10.

In 2017 Blog Before Flight was the world's first non-military website to publish the story of the Capt. Roberto "Pinna" Manzo. He is a former AMX pilot of the Italian Air Force who received the great opportunity to take part in the "Pilot Exchange Program" and move to the United States to fly the legendary A-10 Warthog. His story and our article have been much appreciated by all aviation enthusiasts and military officers. Last year Pinna released an interesting video-interview in which he shared more details about his experience. In addition, he has posted some interesting comments on the Before Flight Blog media channels.

“I remember there was one particular day that instead of watching the actual airplanes I started looking at the little helmet that you could see inside the airplane,” he said. “I started thinking, there is a guy in there, like, he’s having so much fun… flying these fast machines around the sky. And I started liking it and I started reading a lot about airplanes, in general, about what the air force does and that’s when my dream of becoming a pilot started.”

After having flown for seven years the AMX at the 132ยบ Gruppo, Istrana AFB, Italy, Pinna got the opportunity that he says anyone in the close air support community would dream of – the chance to join the U.S. Air Force’s foreign exchange pilot program and fly the A-10 Thunderbolt II.

“I was excited, I was absolutely out of my mind when my commander called me into the office and said, ‘Hey do you want to be the exchange pilot and go fly A-10s?’ I was like ‘Absolutely!’ and I almost cried,” recalls Pinna.

The exchange program provides officers with the opportunities to participate in personnel exchanges with over 30 air forces around the world.

“The whole idea behind it is to maximize the interchangeability of the pilots and the way we can interact between air forces,” he said. “This is actually the best way to integrate – I am actually completely embedded in the squadron. Right now I work as the chief of scheduling, I’ve been working as chief of training for about a year, so there is virtually no difference between me and any other United States Air Force pilot that works in the squadron.”

Pinna attended all scheduled courses flying the A-10C aircraft at the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, where he acquired the combat ready qualification during the TX-1 course. The TX-1 is reserved for pilots ready to fight with a different type of combat aircraft. Currently he is qualified as a "Leader" in formations composed of 2 and 4 aircraft. His experience in the USAF will end in about a year.

"The training I am doing in the USAF is remarkable, no other armed force and no other aircraft could have offered me the opportunity to learn so well a "delicate" role as Close Air Support. In addition, the opportunity to change the type of aircraft allows me to maximize the "cross training", ie the ability to "mix" techniques, tactics and procedures that is precisely the purpose of the exchange program. The pilots who have preceded me are back in Italy with a really impressive baggage of knowledge, which they have shared with all their colleagues in the Italian Air Force," Pinna told Blog Before Flight.

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Images: Italian Air Force

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