Home | History | 1926 - 1933

1926 - 1933

The Golden Years

The floatplane base on the Po near the Isabella Bridge, inaugurated in 1926

Many are the memories, the firsts and the records that our aviation has consigned to History, not only those of the previously-mentioned exploits of Faccioli, Brach Papa, Laureati, De Bernardi etc.

For example, the 1st of April 1926 is one of these historic dates, not only for the city of Turin, but for Italy as a whole: this was the date on which the Cosulich brothers' S.I.S.A. Company of Trieste first started regular commercial flights in Italy. Their route was Turin-Pavia-Venice-Trieste, using a Cant 10 Ter seaplane.

The aircraft took off from the stretch of the River Po River between the Isabella and the Umberto bridges. A ticket from Turin to Trieste cost 350 Lire.

A Cant 10 Ter which flew the Turin-Trieste service. Seen here during takeoff from Trieste The floatplane base on the Po, inaugurated in 1926A Cant 10 Ter in arrival at the Valentino floatplane baseCant 10 Ter during takeoff with Valentino Castle in the background

 

his event preceded by a few days the first flight of the S.A.N.A. Company between Genoa, Rome and Naples, which took place on the 7th of April. From the 1st of August of that same year, "Aero Espresso" began the first service between Brindisi and Constantinople.

In 1926, FIAT started up a new company called "Avio Linee Italiane" (A.L.I.) wich later became "Ali Littoria". This, initially flying Fokker FVII aircraft, established the first regular Turin-Rome flights in 1929, departing from Mirafiori.

Fokker FVII which flew the first Turin-Milan-Rome route, departing from Mirafiori airfieldThe “comfortable” internal of the Fokker in service on the Turin-Rome route

 

The headquarters of the Turin Aero Club "Gino Lisa" in those days were in Via Carlo Alberto 41, but were moved first to Via Pietro Micca 18 (1930) then successively to Via Del Carmine (1932). In 1933 it took up residence in via  San Francesco d'Assisi 14. Flying itself took place at Mirafiori South, site of many sporting events, demonstrations and gatherings of one sort and another through the years – meetings which are part of the history of Torinese and Italian aviation. There was a mixed gathering of members, enthusiasts and others who were just simply curious, many of whom, for the first time in their lives, came close enough to touch one of these marvellous machines called aeroplanes.

The ’30’s. Social outing Aero Club Gino LisaA number of distinguished men followed dopo Montù, one another as Presidents of the “Gino Lisa”: Count Carlo Nicolis di Robilant (1927 – 1930), Count Paolo Thaon dE Revel (1930 – 1934), Engineer Ugo Sartirana from 1934 until 1938 (during his presidence Amedeo di SAVOIA - DUCA D'AOSTA was nominated honorary President), and from November 1938 until 1946, Count Antonio Farini.

.

 

  

 Amedeo di SAVOIA, DUKE of AOSTA.

(Honourary President of the Aeroclub Torino “Gino Lisa” from 1937) sometimes called the “Iron Duke” and the “Hero of Amba Alagi”.

Pilot and Italian General, he was the Viceroy of Italian East Africa from 1937 to 1941.
The son of the second Duke of Aosta, Emanuele Filiberto and Elena of Bourbon-Orléans, he was born in Turin in 1898.
He obtained his degree in Jurisprudence at the University of Palermo and on the 24th of July 1925, gained his licence as a military pilot.
He was sent with the Army to Africa, where he took part in a number of raids, and was awarded the Military Silver Medal for his intrepid operations over Cirenaica.
During the ‘30’s he was resident at the Miramare Castle, near Trieste, while he was the C.O. of the 29th Artillery Regiment “Gorizia”.
During this period he was also honourary president of the Trieste Football Club.
At the end of the Spanish Civil War, in 1939 he was proposed for the throne of Spain, following the deposition of the Bourbons, but the proposal was vetoed by General Francisco Franco.
On the 5th of November 1927, he married Anna of Orléans in Naples. The couple had two girls, Margherita who married (in 1953) Robert of Hapsburg-Este, second son of Carlo I, the Austro-Hungarian Emperor, and Maria Cristina who married (in 1967) Casimir of Bourbon-Two Sicilies.
In 1932 he joined the Royal Italian Air Force.
On the 21st of October 1937, Amedeo of Savoia was nominated Governor-General of Italian East Africa and Viceroy of Etiopia.
During the Second World War, in 1941, he was Commander-in-Chief of the Army, and found himself fronting the overwhelming advance of the British troops in Italian East Africa.
With the few troops remaining under his command, he retreated to set up the last resistance in the mountains of Ethiopia. With 7000 men, he was able to hold out at Amba Alagi from the 17th of April until the 17th of May 1941.
The Italian defence soon came under seige by General Cunningham’s 39.000 men. The Italian soldiers put up a strenuous defence for an entire month, but ultimately debilitated by the cold, lack of water and out of ammunition, they were forced to surrender to the British on the 19th of May 1941.
The British troops, as a gesture of admiration for the resistance put up by the Italians, accorded the survivors the honour of their arms, allowing the officers to keep their pistols.
Amedeo of Aosta died of malaria in Nairobi, on the 3rd of March 1942.
In 1937, during the Presidency of Ugo Sartirana, Amedeo of Aosta was nominated Honourary President of the Aeroclub Torino “Gino Lisa”.

During the 1930's the FIAT built the tarmac runway "30". This was originally 1000 metres long, but was lengthened to 1500 metres in 1963.

Between the wars, from this airfield, test pilots like the previously-mentioned Brach Papa, Lovadina, Ferrarin, Rolandi, Cus and Catella brought to perfection aircraft which would carry the name of Turin to the furthest corners of the world – one example being the CR30 fighter which was exported to China and to Romania in 1933, to Hungary, Austria and Spain in 1936 and to Venezuela in 1937.

Later, the famous FIAT G.50, G.55 and G.59 would take their place on the runway as they took off for their test flights.

FIAT CR30FIAT G59

 

Italo BalboThen came the difficult years of the Second World War, followed by those, equally difficult but full of hope years of the post-war reconstruction.

The Aero club of Turin had been seriously damaged by air attacks. The collapse of its hangar caused the loss of almost all its aircraft, and in the devastation caused by the retreating Germans, most of its documentation was also destroyed. Thus, much of its history is now gone for ever.