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50's and 60's

50's and 60's

Aerial view of the lineup during the inauguration ceremony. In the background the Runway “30” and the FIAT-Aeritalia factory are visible

The second hangar under construction

 

Gianni Agnelli

Giovanni (Gianni) Agnelli

Between the years 1950 to 1970, the Aero Club Torino underwent its golden period under the Presidency of "The Advocate" Giovanni Agnelli (biography by Wikipedia).
This is neither the time nor the place to try to do justice to the charisma and world-wide fame of this man, but merely to mention that he was a passionate aviator and took over the office of President with enthusiasm, enlisting the cooperation of loyal and expert operational staff such as Casana, Catella, Mollino, Di Modica, Isaia and many others. His Presidency brought a period of unparalleled growth and prosperity to the Club.

In 1955 the Torino-Aeritalia airfield was opened to national light aircraft traffic.

In May 1954, the minutes of a FIAT board meeting signed by Prof. Valletta indicated that the offices of the Aero Club could be transferred to the Aeritalia airfield on the North side of the field (near Cascina Berlia). This was made definitive in November 1956, and the reorganization and the restructuring work of the building was entrusted to the architect Carlo Mollino. The cost of the entire operation, some 38 million lire, was borne by FIAT.

The concession for the use of the buildings, hangars and airfield surface by the Aero Club was contractually formalized on the 5th of April 1958. With this act, the Aero Club accepted the fairly onerous burden of managing the airfield, something it has continued to do ever since.

Luglio 1959. Il cardinal Maurilio Fossati benedice i locali della nuova sedeThe large crowd which attended the opening of the new clubhouseGiovanni Agnelli giving the inaugural speech at the new clubhouse ceremonyThe new premises with the control tower (architect: Carlo Mollino)

 

Edoardo AgnelliThus in July 1959 (with the new office accommodation now complete) the Aero Club of Turin finally abandoned its old premises in Via San Francesco d'Assisi 14 and moved into its new address of Strada della Berlia 500.

At the inauguration ceremony (with the President Giovanni Agnelli, the Vice-President Baron Casana and the entire board of directors present) speeches were made by various military and civil authorities such as the Undersecretary of State Bovetti, representing the Government, General Bianchi representing the Air Force and Cardinal Maurilio Fossati who blessed the field. At the ceremony, the field was dedicated to Edoardo Agnelli, who died in an aircraft accident on the 14th of July 1935 when the SIAI S-80 seaplane he was in crashed on landing in the sea near Genoa (the pilot, Arturo Ferrarin, was uninjured).

The 50's saw the arrival of jet-powered aircraft: the airport at Caselle, which up until then had been exclusively a military airfield was opened to civilian traffic on the 30th of July 1953 and just 6 days later (5th August 1953), commercial activities began with the start of a Turin-Rome service operated by Alitalia using a Convair 340. It became the reference point for commercial aviation only from the 6th of march 1956 with the constitution of the management society SAGAT.

nauguration ceremony at Caselle for its opening to civil air trafficGazzetta Ufficiale del 22 agosto 1959

 

However all the training and sporting activities remained entrusted to the runways of the Aero Club at Aeritalia.

Also in 1959, the Decree No. 643 of 26th May, promulgated by the President of the Republic of Italy, gave the Turin Aero Club formal juridical status.

In 1958, "the Advocate" (Giovanni Agnelli) began discussions with FIAT with the intention of building another runway and the related taxiways. At a Board Meeting on the 7th of February 1961, the FIAT Board voted the sum of 106 million lire for the construction of the new asphalt runway "28R-10L", 1075 metres in length, for use by the Aero Club. Only a few weeks later, on the 9th of March, another 84 million lire were allocated to extend the runway "30" to 1500 metres, and yet a further 20 million to re-asphalt the whole of "30".

The air meeting to celebrate the opening of the new runway “28/10”

 

With regard to the construction of the new runway, whose construction needed to be complete in time for the Centenary of the Unification of Italy, the Managing Director of FIAT, Engineer Bonadé Bottino, stated in a memo dated 7th Feb 1961 to Prof. Vittorio Valletta: "The only way to guarantee the availability of this runway in time for the Centenary is to start work immediately!"

And so it was. The runway was built in time and inaugurated with a huge air show as planned.

Among his many achievements, Agnelli was also responsible for restructuring the clubhouse, having hangars built with State funds (1963), the complete renewal of the fleet (1964, 1965 and 1968) and above all, giving the Aero Club an incredible impulse and prestige.

Tour of the Piedmontese Castels

The Vice-President Piero Casana and the President Giovanni Agnelli award a prize to Alessandro Umberto Cagno, one of the senior membersGiovanni Agnelli making his speech at  the prizegiving ceremony for the Tour of the Piedmontese Castles

 

In particular, Agnelli encouraged and gave patronage to the air race known as the "Tour of the Piedmontese Castles", taking up the tradition when went back to the 1930's when the "Air Circuit of the Castles of Savoia" was the big event at Mirafiori.

The race reached a zenith of prestige in his days which will never be reached again (see the Roll of Winners in Table 2).

In the years that followed, these same runways saw the advent of international sporting competitions such as the "Tour of the Piedmontese Castles" for powered aircraft and the "City of Turin Trophy" for sailplanes. These types of events boosted the traditionally high reputation of Turin for air sports to the zenith of the Italian aviation world, and was something to which AGNELLI's presidency gave particular emphasis.

Winners of the "Giro dei castelli"

Valentino Castle - the gala dinner following the conclusion of the Tour of the Piedmontese Castles

1961


Enrico Calcaterra su Avia-FL3 e Oreste Bruno su STINSON L5 (parimerito)
Piero Casana su Lombardi-LM5
1962
Edmondo Cotignoli su STINSON L5
Emilio Garrone su AVIA-FL3
1963

Emilio Tessera Chiesa su MB 308
Sergio Cerrina su FL8, Giuseppe De Marie su PIPER TRIPACER, Pino Porzio su APACHE (parimerito)

1964
Alberto Bonazzi su MB 308
Renato Zinni su PIPER COLT
1965
Camillo Monguidi su FACHIRO
Renato Zinni su SOKOL
1966
Emilio Tessera Chiesa su MB 308
Sergio Cerrina su PICCHIO e Renato Zinni su SOKOL (parimerito)
1967
Pietro Marchisio su CESSNA 172
Emilio Garrone su P 129 TR
1968
Camillo Bonguidi su CESSNA 172
Renato Zinni su SOKOL e Benedetto Castelli su PIPER CUB (parimerito)
1969
1° Albano Grosso su Falco-FL8
2° a pari merito:
Benedetto Castelli su PIPER CUB e Fortunato Vernetti Blina su PIPER TR
1970
Luciano Nustrini su Falco-FL8
Pietro Marchisio su SIAI S 205
1971
Lorenzo Gallo su P 66B
Romualdo Petrolini su P 66B
1972
Eudo Saccomani su P 66B
Savino Balzano su Falco-F8L
1973
Benedetto Castelli su PIPER CUB
Ennio Molinari su JODEL
1974
Natale Danelli su JODEL e Benedetto Castelli su PIPER CUB (parimerito)
Gigliola Scorta su Falco-F8L
1975
Savino Balzano su SF 260
Pietro Marchisio su PA 18
1976
Natale Danelli su ROBIN
Savino Balzano su SF 260 - Giuseppe De Marie su F15B - Eudo Saccomani su CESSNA 172 (parimerito)
1977
Natale Danelli su CESSNA 172
Savino Balzano su SF 260
1978
Natale Danelli su ROBIN
Savino Balzano su SF 260
1979
Remo Simoni su PA 28
Albano Grosso su Falco-F8L
1980 Non disputato
1981
Natale Danelli su ROBIN - Benedetto Castelli su PIPER CUB (parimerito)
Lino Manassero su CESSNA 172
1982
Gigliola Scorta Paci su SF 260
Luigi Ferri su PA28
1983
Albano Grosso su Falco-FL8
Benedetto Castelli su PIPER CUB
1984
Luigi Ferri su PA28
Cesare Cozzi su CESSNA 172
1985
Albano Grosso su Falco-FL8
Cesare Cozzi su Falco-FL8
1986
Cesare Cozzi su CESSNA 172
Albano Grosso su Falco-FL8
1987
Cesare Cozzi su CESSNA 172
Roberto Scarzella su CESSNA 172
1988
Enzo Boni su CESSNA 172
Sergio Borea su MAULE 7
1989
1° a pari merito:
Cesare Cozzi su CESSNA 172 e Carlo Ferrandini su SIAI 205
1991
Roberto Scarzella e Carlo Gabutti su CESSNA 152
G. Colli e E. Stevani su CESSNA 182B
1992
Sartorelli G. Giardini su P66C
Salucci e Servidei su CESSNA 172
1993
Sartorelli G. Giardini su P66C
G. Colli ed E. Stevani su CESSNA 182
1994 NON DISPUTATO
1995
E. Bartolini e T. Sangiorgi (Lugo) su CESSNA 172P
R. Cuman e L. Musetti (Lugo) su CESSNA 150
1996
Categoria Internazionale:
Castiglioni-Armiraglio
Cuman-Musetto

Categoria Nazionale
Signori-Cella
Davigo-Schirato
1997
Categoria Internazionale:
Castiglioni-Armiraglio
Massilli-Bovati

Categoria Nazionale
Landoni-Merletti
Bartolini-Baldassarri
1998
Davigo-Schirato
Castiglioni-Armiraglio

Album fotografico

Vice-President Piero Casana with the winners of the 6th Tour of the Castles, the Tessera Chiesa brothers Albano Grosso, Andrea Florio, Benedetto Castelli, Sergio Viano
80's. Ernestina (Titta) Rossi, Castagneris, Pietro Marchisio e Savino Ferraris 70's. Piero Casana, Ferruccio Vignoli, Rai journalist, Savino Ferraris, Gigliola Scorta, Savino Balzano
80's. Romy Petrolini, Franca Rossetti and Pietro Marchisio 80's. Savino Ferraris, Bianco, Silvano Turrini, Pietro Marchisio and Paola Cerutti

The 19th of March 1959 saw the inauguration (with Mass being celebrated by Don Paolo Gariglio) of a course for pilots of the C.I.A.M.M (International Centre for Aviation and Motorization of Missionaries) with 10 student pilots, including several nuns of the congregation of St. Luigi of Alba, various Italian missionaries based in Pakistan, the Mentawai Islands, Indonesia, South America and the Far East. The director of the school was Col. Alfonso Isaia, aided by two instructors, Vignoli and Allesi.

Flying lessons for missionaries. Giovanni Agnelli and Cardinal Fossati at the “wings” ceremony Flying lessons for missionaries. Giovanni Agnelli and Cardinal Fossati at the “wings” ceremony Cardinal FossatiFlying lessons for missionaries. Giovanni Agnelli and Cardinal Fossati The control tower decked out with flags for the closing ceremony of the Missionaries’ Flying courseThe newly-qualified missionary pilots

 

Giovanni Agnelli’s De Havilland “Dove” at the Aeritalia airfield

At the same time, the first commercial activities began to flourish – air taxi, air photography, executive flights, publicity flights etc.

The RIV Company, whose President was Giovanni Agnelli, flew its first executive aircraft from the Aeritalia airfield in 1949. This was a De Havilland "Dove", of British construction, and was followed in 1957 by a Heron, then in 1961 by a Grumman "Gulfstream".

Other aircraft began to use Aeritalia as their base, such as the Beech Commander of Pinin Farina and the "Queen Air" of the San Paolo Bank. These aircraft were housed along with those of the SIGE, - a FIAT subsidiary who were the first to launch the industrial use of helicopters in Italy – in the hangars at the head of the "30" runway. In 1961, simultaneously with the celebrations for the centenary of the Unification of Italy, the airfield was finally opened to international tourist aircraft traffic.

With the growth of Caselle and its qualification as an IFR airport in 1969, executive aircraft traffic gravitated naturally towards these more attractive features. In a short space of time, such traffic stopped using "Aeritalia".

It would be inappropriate to conclude this summary of the post-war years without mentioning two other people who have really left their mark on the History of the Aero Club: Carlo Mollino and Ferruccio Vignoli.

Carlo Mollino

Carlo MollinoDon Paolo Gariglio, Mons. Arduino and Carlo Mollino at the presentation ceremony of the Madonna of Loreto

 

The architect Carlo Mollino (Turin, 1905 – 1973) was one of the most controversial and enigmatic personages of Torinese "high society" in the period immediately following the end of WWII.

An architect of international fame (the Regio Theatre of Turin was one of his last works) and professor of Architectural Composition at the Turin Polytechnic, his multi-faceted genius pointed him towards the aeronautical world, one of his many sporting interests from which he derived most inspiration for his works.

He became an aerobatic pilot, and was friend and pupil of the former World Champion Albert Reusch. In the 1950's in collaboration with Luigi Faraggiana and other technicians, Mollino designed cars, aircraft and even patented a dual-command system as well as various instruments for the graphic calculation of routes, designed and produced colour schemes for his own and friends' aircraft and publicity posters for the Air Displays in which he took part.

The Madonna of Loreto, protectress of Aviators sculpture by Carlo MollinoThe sign for the Aero Club café, designed and hand-made by Carlo Mollino himselfThe Aero Club Torino logo designed by Carlo Mollino

 

He was an active participant in the life of the Aero Club TORINO, being on the Board of Directors and supervising all the association's building activities.

In 1958, he was responsible for the design and completion of the restructured headquarters.

For the occasion of the 8th of December holiday, he undertook a project to design a pylon to commemorate the Madonna of Loreto, patron saint of aviators, for subsequent installation at the Aero Club. The work was cast in bronze, was inaugurated on the 19th of March 1959 before various civil and military authorities during the opening of the CIAMM pilot's course and blessed by the Salesian missionary Bishop Monsignor Arduino. Today it stands between the headquarters and the aircraft parking area.

He produced many sketches, designs and artefacts for the Aero Club, including the famous "winged bull" motif of the Aero Club itself, trophies and small sculptures with aviation themes and the curious and highly original sign for the "Bar" which he hand-made by himself.

He studied aircraft profiles and did design work (e.g. "Graffer"), anticipating by half a century what later became reality in the USA – houses with their own aircraft hangars.

Ferruccio Vignoli

A young Ferruccio Vignoli aboard a Macchi 202The bicycle with wings invented by Vignoli in 1924

 

Native of Bologna (1906 – 1997) he became Chief Instructor of the Aero Club Torino in 1954. His incredible curriculum, ample testimony to him as a man and as an aviator, speaks for itself.

He gained his Civil Pilot's Licence in 1926 followed by his Military Pilot's Licence in 1927. Assigned initially to No. 21 Reconnaissance Squadron, he later joined No. 22 Daylight Bombing Squa­dron and in 1935 he volunteered for the 8th and 9th East Africa Squadrons flying tactical support and logistic missions in Somalia.

In 1937 he set a World Record of 57 hours 20 minutes for Duration and Speed (at an average speed of 231 km/h measured over 10,000 km of a total of 12,938 km flown). He was awarded the Military Silver Medal for this. That same year, he was the stand-in (i.e. the real pilot) for Amedeo Nazzari in the film Luciano Serra Pilota directed by Goffredo Alessandrini, with the collaboration of Roberto Rossellini.

In 1938 he joined 28 Group No. 18 Overseas ("La Cucaracha") Squadron involved in the Spanish Civil War then took part in the occupation of the airport of Tirana in 1939 (his was the first aircraft to land). The following year, with an SM82, he took part in the first air raid on Gibraltar (Guidonia- Gibraltar-Alicante-Guidonia).

In 1941, with the 20th Fighter Group, No. 151 Sqn ("Black Cat & Green Mice") he took part in the campaign against Malta flying an MC 202.

In 1943, at the Guidonia Experimental Centre, he was accredited as a Test Pilot and took over that position with Piaggio, where he tested various versions of the 4-engined P108 and CANT-Z). At the end of that year he returned to No 2 Fighter Group flying missions over the North of Italy in MC 202, MC 205 and ME-109G's. The Group was credited with 102 enemy aircraft shot down or seriously damaged.

Vignoli was personally credited with the following:

  • Kills: 3 Spitfires, 1 P-47 Thunderbolt, 1 B26 Marauder.
  • Kills in collaboration with others: 1 Spitfire, 2 P-47 Thunderbolts, 1 P-51 Mustang, 1 P-40 Hawk.
  • Aircraft "seriously damaged": 1 B-17 bomber, 1 B-24 Liberator bomber, 1 B-25 Mitchell bomber.

Vignoli testing a tethered autogyroThe cheerful vigour of Vignoli, director of the Flying School for over 30 years

 

In the post-war period, he continued as Test Pilot of a STOL aircraft for "Aeronautica Umbra" and the Baldo 75 of "Alaparma". In 1954, having been an Instructor at Bologna and Lugo di Romagna, during Giovanni Agnelli presidency he was requested to become the Chief Flying Instructor at the Aero Club Torino (where he remained for the rest of his life). Despite this, he still found time to continue with his activities as a Test Pilot (test-flying the Nardi FN 333 "Riviera" amphibious, the M-200 Glider of the Morelli brothers, a Bensen autogyro (the first of its kind to fly in Italy) and the experimental Evans VP1 and VP2 aircraft).

Career Decorations

  • Military Silver Medal (1955)
  • Air Force Silver Medal (1939)
  • 2 Air Force Bronze Medals (1940 and 1942)
  • 3 Military War Crosses (1936, 1937 and 1939)
  • Knight of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Italy (1958).