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1934 - 1949

The birth of gliding in Turin

In 1933, the Aero Club of Italy invited Dr. Robert Kronfeld to present the recently-developed sport of gliding.

Kronfeld, an Austrian Jew, was an aerobatics champion who had perfected all the techniques of gliding and was the author of a number of technical papers about gliders and meteorology for unpowered flight.

Invited to Turin by the then President of the Turin Aero Club, Count Thaon di Revel, Kronfeld presented his glider in a highly appreciated Air Show at Mirafiori.

Piero Casana

Piero Casana

 

It was at Mirafiori that Kronfeld met Baron Piero Casana and invited him to participate in an Air Show in the skies over Vienna near the Luxembourg Castle in the presence of the Chancellor Dolfuss. This stimulating experience was the driver for the creation of the Turin Aero Club's "Glider Section" in 1933. Its instigator and first Director was none other than Baron Casana himself.
In July 1939, the first "Turin Sailplane Week" was organised at the "Gino Lisa" airfield at Mirafiori.
When the war ended, the Italian glider fraternity began to reorganise, and in 1946, the Federazione Italiana Volo a Vela (FIVV - Italian Gliding Federation) was constituted. Baron Casana was nominated as its first President. He was succeeded by Vittorio Bonomi.
The year 1948 saw the organization of the second "Turin Sailplane Week" at Aeritalia. This enjoyed considerable success for the large number of entrants both old and young. Among the more famous participants were Mantelli, Vaghi, Galimberti, Lagler and Riccardo Brigliadori (elder brother of Leonardo, who went on to become World Champion in the "Standard" class in 1985).
In 1953, under the patronage of Baron Piero Casana, the Gliding School was opened at Aeritalia. Sailplane flying joined powered flying as a sport with an academic slant.
In fact the Glider Section (following the example of the German "Akaflieg" and the Milan Polytechnic's Gliding Centre) became the initial operative arm for the design activity of the Turin Polytechnic University.

FK 13There are many exploits worthy of being remembered in this discipline, starting with those of Alberto Morelli, who in 1957, for the first time in Italy, flew a distance of over 300 km, and of Gianni De Marta and Dario Rasero who in 1963 over Mount Ruitor, in the Aosta Valley, reached an altitude of over 7000 metres for the first time. Outstanding at the individual level of sporting prowess we find Carlo Della Chiesa, Italian Gliding Champion in 1970 with an FK3 and Nino Perotti, who became Italian Standard Class Champion in 1972, 1973, 1979, 1980 and 1981. And let's forget the ladies, particulary Marisa Seren Bernardone who set the Italian womens record of 5,480 metres (17755 feet) for height gained on the 30th April 1971 in her M-100S glider I-OULX. Even today this remains unbeaten.

In 1962 the Aero Club of Turin organised the first of the gliding competition called the "City of Turin Trophy", won by Leonardo Brigliadori. This race, held annually since 1983, has become the classic "first-of-the-season" challenge for Italian gliding, maintaining its fascination right up until today.

Winners of the Gliding Thophy "Città di Torino" 

The lineup for a “City of Turin Gliding Trophy”  during the 1960’sPassero” Glider I-FOLM landing during a City of Turin Trophy

 

Year Standard Class 15 metre Class Open Class
1962 L. Brigliadori
1963 F. Broggini
1965 G. Di Modica
1967 N. Perotti
1969 A. Orsi (1) F. Piludu (2)
1971 F. Piludu F. Lamera
1973 A. De Orleans R. Peccolo
1975 N. Perotti F. Lamera
1979 N. Perotti P. Dall'Amico
1983 N. Perotti P. Dall'Amico
1984 A. Beozzi
1985 L. Brigliadori
1986 E. Danesy
1987 N. Perotti
1988 G. Marchisio
1989 N. Perotti
1990 G. Marchisio
1991 C. G. Grinza
1992 R. Passardi
1993 A. Beozzi
1994 G. Marchisio
1996 G. Marchisio
1997 S. Ghiorzo
1998 S. Ghiorzo
1999 S. Ghiorzo
2000 L. Monti
2001 S. Ghiorzo
2002 L. Avanzini G. Marchisio
2003 A. Ferrero G. Galletto L. Frigerio
2004 S. Ghiorzo (3) L. Avanzini
2005 V. Pinni R. Brigliadori
2007 E. Tarchini
2008 C. Costa
2009 L. Cavelli (4) L. De Marchi
2010 A. Sironi (4)
2011 L. De Marchi (4)

Note:
(1) cl. senza handicap
(2) cl. con handicap
(3) cl. mista
(4) cl. open

The Morelli brothers

The Morelli brothers, Pietro and Alberto at Rieti filed with their “Passero” gliderAmong the members of the Glider Section of the Turin Aero Club were the Morelli brothers, Piero and Alberto. Both were University lecturers at the Polytechnic as well as sailplane pilots and designers. Piero in particular, took over the leadership of the sailplane section from Baron Casana in 1950, when Casana was nominated Vice President of the Aero Club by Giovanni Agnelli.
The Morelli brothers were among the major post-war protagonists of sailplane construction and competition flying for many years, not only in Italy.
The first of their gliders was the CVT-1 "Zigolo" (1954) followed by the innovative CVT-2 "Veltro" (1961) and the well-known M-100, winner of the competition set up by the Aero Club of Italy for a single-seater trainer sailplane. This in turn was followed by the M-100S, modified to comply with the regulations for the new "Standard" class published in 1958 by the FAI (International Aeronautical Federation).

Piero Morelli in the glider research center of  the Turin Polytechnic during the ’60’sM-100 prototype

More than 200 M-100 gliders were built, as well as another 70 of the M-200 two-seater version. Between 1964 and 1970 two advanced (for the times) prototypes of the futuristic M-300 were built. These, however, still being of wood and metal construction, found themselves up against the explosion in Germany of the revolutionary glass-fibre technology.

Credit must also be given to the significant impulse imparted by Torinese gliding in the '70's and '80's towards the development of Italian organisational capacity to host high level competitions. Thanks to the "Morelli school", Rieti became first the seat of the Italian National Championships, then the European Championships in 1982 and finally the World Championships in 1985.

The post-war period

Aeritalia after a bombing raidAeritalia after a bombing raidDamage to the Aeritalia factory at the end of WW2

Damage to FIAT avio

 

In April 1944, the airfield at Aeritalia was subjected to a terrible air raid and was hit by more than 250 bombs during the repeated carpet bombing which peppered both the airfield and the adjacent FIAT-Aeritalia aircraft factory.
At the end of the war, the airport (which had by then become the main airport for the city) was completely restored, and on the 5th of May 1947, the 1000 x 60 metres asphalt runway "30" at saw the restart of commercial airline activity with the first post-war Italian flights between Turin and Rome.
The article in “La Stampa”  dedicated in 1997 to the 50th anniversary of the 1st Alitalia flight of 1947Aeritalia's "30" also saw the maiden flights of the first transport aircraft prototypes for the newly-formed "Avio Linee Italiane" immediately after the war, becoming the runway of Turin's main airport up until 1953 when commercial aviation began to operate out of Caselle.

It was also at this runway that the football fans of the "Grande Torino" waited in vain to cheer their heroes on the 4th of May 1949, the day of the Superga tragedy. At 17.05, the FIAT G212 piloted by Pierluigi Meroni, with the entire team, the managers and the staff aboard, crashed into the hilltop just below the Basilica of Superga in poor visibility during the landing approach.

The “Grand Torino” football team which perished in the Superga crash

At the end of the war, it was thanks to Engeneer Enrico Rolandi that the few remaining aircraft of the Aero Club fleet were collected and returned to flying condition at the FIAT Airfield at Aeritalia.

In 1948, when the glorious "Gino Lisa" at Mirafiori South was definitively closed, first due to the war damage and then due to building speculation, FIAT made the northern part of the Aeritalia airfield available to the Aero Club. Here, the small fleet was accommodated in the hangars of FIAT's "Aircraft Section" at Corso Marche.

This operation took place during the Presidency of Dr. Francesco Balbis (co-founder with his brother-in-law Senator Guglielmone of the Torinese bank "Balbis & Guglielmone").