Years of the new century
The early years of the new millennium were characterized by a number of new initiatives. These were aimed at partly at developing the airfield's activities through its increased usage by the public services and partly at the promotion and dissemination of "the art of flying" in the broadest sense. The year 2004 saw the organization of the first of a series air trips whose aim was not only to incentivate flying, but above all to allow the participants to gain a greater understanding of the National and International aeronautical world, allowing them to refine their flight planning and navigation techniques, talents indispensable for flight safety.
That first 4-day circuit (Turin, Fano, Pescara, Crotone, Perugia, Turin) which took place in early July 2004 was followed by Croatia (Dubrovnik) in 2006, Spain (Valencia) in 2007, Sicily (Trapani) in 2008, France (the Chateaux of the Loire) in 2009 and Greece (Corfù) in 2010.
With the intention of promoting understanding of the world of aeronautics to the general public, an "Open Day" was organised in June 2006, inviting the local citizens to visit the airfield, with the possibility of enjoying a flight – which for many was a "baptism of the air". The enormous success of the event, with over 15,000 participants, convinced the Board of Directors that the event should be repeated each year in collaboration with the organization ANPAS (Associazione Nazionale Pubbliche Assistenze) under the name of "Giochi d'Ali Solidali. This has become a regular meeting between the world of aeronautics and the townspeople.
Year by year, this event has grown, attracting interest and the participation of the local aeronautical corporations, in particular Alenia Aeronautica, which for the 2008 edition displayed a prototype Molynx. This diesel JTD 1900 high altitude UAV (Unmanned Air Vehicle), capable of autonomous or remotely piloted operation has an autonomy of some 30 hours flight.
The Nimbus company of Leinì also presented a prototype reconnaissance with remote.
Great hopes of growth were fostered following the news that the Winter Olympics of 2006 had been assigned to Turin.
An ambitious project called "Olicopter" was planned to provide a helicopter service up and down the Olympic Valleys. Its main locus was to be the Turin Aero Club, and had the collaboration of a number of large companies in this sector. If it had come into being, it would have brought considerable visibility and traffic as well as supplying a much-needed service.
It was planned that the airfield would also be used for the Olympic emergency and rescue services, since thanks to the total coverage of the costs by the Piedmont Region and ENAV, a floodlit helicopter landing area, runway lights and a PAPI (Precision Approach Path Indicator), enabling 24 hours a day operations had been installed.
Unfortunately, and an enormous delusion for all of us, the Winter Olympic Games not only brought no benefits at all to the airfield, but even penalised it! At the very last moment, for alleged reasons of "anti-terrorist security", it was completely closed to traffic by order of the Prefect (Chief of Police) for the entire period of the Games.
Putting behind them the delusion of the winter and continuing with the policy of public service activities on the 29th of November 2006, the Board of the Aero Club stipulated a convention with the GRASSI Technical Aeronautical Institute to put in to practice a project called "Professionalism in Flight" within an initiative of the Province of Turin to forge a link between school and work. The project helped the entire final year class to see what the world of aviation has to offer.
Within the context of development and encouragement of the school, we should mention that on the 11th of January 2008, an agreement was signed with the Aero Club of Vercelli for the joint opening of a Flight Training Organisation which has been operating successfully since March 2009.
In June 2009, a collaboration agreement was signed between the Aero Club and the Turin Polytechnic University. In all truth (as already previously mentioned), collaboration between the Aero Club and the Polytechnic goes back as far as the 1950's, and the initiatives of the brothers Piero and Alberto Morelli.
However, following their deaths, this connection had been allowed to lapse. Fortunately in recent years, this has recommenced with renewed vigour, leading to the stipulation of the before-mentioned agreement.
The seven initiatives in evolution at the beginning of 2010 are in collaboration with:
1. Profs. Marco Di Sciuva, Salvatore D'Angelo and Giorgio Guglieri in a project by the Aeronautical Engineering department to introduce young aeronautical engineers to flying.
2. Project SkySpark, development of an electrically-driven aircraft powered by hydrogen batteries in collaboration with:
- the Department of Aeronautical and Space Engineering
- the Department of Electrical, Energetic and Management Engineering.
- Digisky (Commander Maurizio Cheli (pilot and astronaut) and Engineer Paolo Pari.
3. Department of Electronics for the collection of meteorological data, Prof. Valter Ferrero.
4. Department of Automation and Computer Science, Kite-Gen, an experimental airborne power generation system using computer-controlled kites, Prof. Mario Milanese.
5. Department of Aerospace Engineering, experimental solar-powered pilotless aircraft, Prof. Giulio Romeo.
6. Micro Air Vehicle Technology, experiments with a mini pilotless aircraft, Prof. Fulvia Quagliotti.
7. Polytechnic Racing Team, Formula SAE experimental vehicle (this is a student race car design competition organized by SAE International (formerly Society of Automotive Engineers), Prof. Andrea Tonoli.
The agreement was formally announced at a Press Conference held on the 29th of November 2009 in the conference room of the Aero Club. Protagonists were the Mayor of Collegno Silvana Accossato, the Rector of the Polytechnic Prof. Alessandro PROFUMO and the various Professors involved with the individual projects.
L’accordo è stato ufficializzato nel corso di una conferenza stampa tenutasi il 25 novembre 2009 nell’aula dell’Aero Club Torino alla presenza del Sindaco di Collegno Silvana Accossato, del Rettore del Politecnico Prof. Francesco Profumo e di tutti i docenti del Politecnico interessati al progetto.
In October 2008, a ceremony was held to celebrate the Centenary of the foundation of the Aero Club, which, as mentioned at the beginning of this History, took place in July 1908. Among the illustrious participants were the Mayor of Collegno Silvana Accossato, the Turin Aldermen Renato Montabone (responsible for Sport) and Alessandro Altamura (responsible for Tourism) and a number of representatives from the worlds of Sports and Aeronautics.
The event was also celebrated by the Italian Postal Service with a special franked cancellation on the 31st of May 2008.
From the aeronautical point of view, the event was also the occasion of a twinning between the Aero Club and the Army Helicopter Group at the Venaria military airport.
June 2009 brought the Torino-Aeritalia airfield (LIMA) directly into the world spotlight as the scene of the most intense activity imaginable with the start of the "World Air Games". Known as the "Olympics of the Air", this is without doubt the most important sports aviation competition in the world. A full seven days of formidable international competition covering all ten air sports disciplines took place in the skies over Piedmont.
Week of aeronautical culture
In May 2010, in collaboration with the Aero Club Torino, the Italian Air Force organised a week of "aeronautical culture" for pupils of the high schools of Turin. The success of this initiative can be judged by the enormous request for participation which was well beyond wildest hopes of the organisers who had to limit the numbers to about 300 pupils, leaving several hundred others until the next occasion.
On the 14th of May, following a series of introductory conferences held by IAF personnel at the various schools, "air experience" flights began in the four SIAI Marchetti 208 aircraft made available by the IAF for an entire week. The event, which rather than a ceremony could be called a joyous party, saw the participation of politicians from Turin and Collegno, Piedmont Region and Province of Turin.
And finally, in September 2010, at a cost of some 250.000 Euro, work began on the complete refurbishment of the rusty and dangerous state-owned hangar located on the North side of the airfield, bringing to a somewhat laborious end the plan for renewal of the indispensible structures of the airfield.
The main focus of the Board of Directors for the 2010's is to increase the number of instructional courses (as of March 2010, there were 102 students at various levels), to promote the airfield through the creation of a multifunctional platform for all public utility services (e.g. Civil Defence, Fire Brigade, Forestry Fire Service and Police) in addition to the already-existing Rescue Services (118) helicopters.
Another objective is to try to encourage the greatest possible number of small companies in the aeronautic sector to locate on the airfield in order to generate a type of incubator laboratory for aeronautical projects and experimentation. It is hoped that the convention signed with the Turin Polytechnic will be productive in this regard.