Frecce, aeronautic display of high tech ingenuity

TRENTON (Ontario) – Of course, I said yes when the Consul General, Luca Zelioli, invited me to join him at the Trenton Air Force Base for a show by the renowned Italian Air Force’s “Frecce Tricolori”. I had seen them with my children and my parents when I was making my way in public life, in 1986, when they put on a show over the Canadian National Exhibition, so many long years ago. They thrilled my family then… I would have said yes, even if he had not also indicated that Col. Stefano Pietropaoli, the contingent’s Commanding Officer, would make himself available for an interview with the Corriere Canadese.

In near-perfect weather, people numbering in the tens of thousands were flocking from their homes in the many small communities in Quinte County and places nearby. The base was awash with people and their children. It proved worthwhile for them and for us.


True to the promise, all senior members of the Italian battalion, including Generale di Squadra Aerea Luca Goretti (Capo di Stato Maggiore dell’Aeronautica Militare Italiana) and Generale di Divisione Maurizio Cantiello (Addetto per la Difesa e la cooperazione per la Difesa in Usa e Canada) and the Canadian base Commanders, W.J. Hall (RCAF Command Chief Warrant Officer) and Eric Kenny (Commander RCAF),  and their staff made themselves available to the Corriere and the Consul General.

It was a great fit. With all due respect to ranking officers, we concentrated on a conversation/interview with Col. Pietropaoli.

Colonel, you must feel the excitement in the air. There are people from unheard of places in Southern Ontario in a military base at least two hours drive from the two major population centers in Ontario (GTA and Ottawa-Carlton), and Montreal is three hours away. Why would you come here of all places?

Three reasons, in no particular order of priority. We regard the RCAF as friends and allies, deserving of whatever recognition we can show. This year, they celebrate their 100th anniversary. We wanted to help celebrate by doing flyovers near some bases (see below) and shows in others like the one in Trenton – distance permitting.

Pardon the interruption but, as we understand it, you will be doing this in other locations outside of Ontario and Canada. Why? It has to be a logistical nightmare, given the in-air [distance] limitations of the MB339PAN – the type of jet used by the squadron.

It is; logistical planning and execution form part of our training and practice. We calculate the impact of variables and fixed circumstances, like distance and time for every show. A second reason is that last year we (the Italian Air Force) celebrated our own centenary putting on a flight show, like the one you are about to see, in each of our twenty (20) regions [provinces]. As a unit, we felt we had left out the Italian citizens living abroad – those in North America, for example, and Canada in particular.

In my experience, there is not usually political intrusion in the operational decisions of branches of the military. This would be a prescient political decision by the Air Force.

Thank you. As the demonstration will attest, we also wanted put on display the combination of human artistry and technological potential to showcase a “Made in Italy” aspect to applications of contemporary, peacetime uses of military equipment. We push the limits of human potential against physics, wanted to give visual pleasure to our own learning processes. Hopefully we will excite the crowd in the process, and in doing so express thanks and appreciation to our hosts.

Major Brent Handy, Snowbird 1, Team Lead, also gave us a statement: “The Snowbirds are honoured to have been able to fly with the Italian Air Forces demonstration team, the Frecce Tricolori, in Ottawa and at the various air shows that we are both attending. Having the team visit Canada during the Centennial of the Royal Canadian Air Force means a lot to us and has allowed us to foster stronger bonds as air demonstration teams as we seek to inspire the future generations of aviators.”


What a show! They plan a flyover Toronto on august 1, 2024. We will keep readers posted. (ed.)

HERE BELOW, A PHOTOGALLERY BY AERONAUTICA MILITARE ITALIANA AND CORRIERE CANADESE – in the pics, the Frecce’s show and: Lieutenant Colonel Massimiliano Salvatore, Colonel Stefano Pietropaoli, the Honorable Joe Volpe, Air Force General Luca Goretti, Consul General Luca Zelioli, Division General Maurizio Cantiello, Lieutenant Colonel Federico Manni and the Minister of Ontario, David Piccini