1972. Conclusion of the 4th Ministerial course for professional pilot’s certification. L to R: Sig. Teti, President of the
Aero Club of Rome, the Hon. Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, alderman Silvio Geuna, Piero Casana, President of the
Aero Club of Turin and Vittore Catella, President of the Aero Club of Italy
The year 1967 saw a certain amount of unrest and dissent within the Aero Club Board. A small number of ill-advised councilors initiated an insidious campaign against Giovanni Agnelli’s Presidency. “The Advocate”, somewhat dismayed and more than a little annoyed at this pettiness, stepped down and delegated everything to Engineer Vittore Catella who carried on with the mandate until its natural conclusion in 1970.
Trivero 15 June 1910 – Turin 16 June 2000
Catella had a degree in Engineering, and was a first class test pilot, politician and Italian sports manager.
He was an officer pilot during the Second World War, and was considered a hero of the air for his audacity and bravery, decorated on a number of occasions, with two silver medals, three bronze medals and five crosses for merit.
His passion for flight continued after the war and he became a test pilot for FIAT.
He test-flew a number of aircraft – in June 1947, the G.46-1 and in February 1948, the G.46-2B. He continued as a test pilot up until 1952, when at Amendola he test-flew the FIAT G.80, the first Italian jet aircraft. These aircraft were all designed by Gabrielli and built by Fiat Aeritalia.
He took up politics, initially becoming a member of the Turin City Council with responsibility for the city’s traffic system, after which he was elected to Parliament in the ranks of the Liberal Party.
A sportsman with a wide range of activities, he held the following offices:
The legacy of Agnelli’s presidency was taken up by Baron Piero Casana who had been his Vice-President for the previsious four years.
Under his presidency, during 1971-72, the Minister of Transport assigned to the Aero Club of Turin, along with the Aero Club of Rome, the organization of the 4th Ministerial Course for the award of Professional Pilot’s Licences. The award ceremony of the more than 27 Licences took place in 1972, at the new venue of the Turin Aero Club in the presence of the Minister of Transport, Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, the President of the Aero Club of Italy Vittore Catella, the General Director of ENAC, General Moci, Councillor Geuna, representing the Mayor of Turin (Porcellana) and the Presidents of the Aero Clubs of Turin and Rome, respectively Casana ad Teti.
Casana’s presidency was followed by that of Sergio Viano in 1974 and by that of Commander Pietro Marchisio in 1978. Marchisio was one of the promoters and founders of Eurofly, tragically meeting an untimely end in 1988 while at the controls of an AB.206 helicopter.
Gigliola Paci Scorta
The trouble-free times of Giovanni Agnelli’s presidency were long past and unfortunately largely forgotten. The 20 years between 1974 and 1994 were ones of constant decline for the Aero Club. Various reasons could account for this, such as the general economic situation, which saw rising costs, a reduction in the numbers of people wanting to fly, and the scant interest shown by both the Public Administration and the owners (FIAT Group companies) who in 1985 sold about half the airfield area, reducing it to its present 600,000 sq. metres.
The division of the airfield area in 1985 caused the truncation of the original runway “30”
The heavy snowfall in January 1986 caused the collapse of one hangar
This was the time when the old original runway “30” went into disuse and the grass runway 10r/28l was activated for the towed gliders as well as the landing area for the gliders (10/28).
Then Nature quite literally added its weight to the economic difficulties! The heavy snowfalls of the 14th, 15th and 16th of January 1986 caused one of the state-owned hangars to collapse and another was seriously damaged.
The sum of these negative situations put the very survival of the Aero Club at risk, and the potential of the airfield as one capable of being used for Public Service was completely ignored partly due to somewhat ingenuous superficiality and partly due to the undoubtedly speculative interests which this vast and appetising area whetted in some peoples’ minds.
To better appreciate the gravity of the situation, it is sufficient to mention that at the conclusion of his mandate in 1994, Savino Balzano, the outgoing President, proposed to the Assembly that the Aero Club should be dissolved and its assets sold off, as he “saw no alternative” in the face of the ongoing crisis.
Fortunately, from that point on, things began to change for the better.