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Italo Balbo, political personality of the Fascist Party, General, Governor of Libya but above all aviator, indeed the Aviator because aviation had always been his dream.
The flight, freedom of spaces and daring challenges mean beauty, freedom and poetry to him: “In every pilot’s heart a little Odysseus sleeps, just a flurry of wings to wake him up”.
It all starts on November 6 1926, first as Undersecretary to the Ministry of Air Force with the task of creating a real military air force, then in 1928 with the promotion to Air Force General, and finally in 1929 to Minister of Aviation with the task of revamping the Italian Air Force and make it a flagship that the regime wants to show off.
His passion for flying and his endeavours as a mass long-haul aviator make history.
Witnesses are the commemorative postage stamps issued for the occasion, including the famous “triptychs” and postal correspondence travelled during the various laps.
Before, the two cruises in the Western and Eastern Mediterranean first, in 1928 and 1929, then the great mass leap to the Atlantic crossings, in 1930 the Italy-Brazil cruise and, in 1933, the triumph of Balbo, on the tenth anniversary of the Royal Air Force, the Cruise of the Decennial, described by Times as “the ginormous endeavour in Air Force history”.
On July 1 1933, 25 seaplanes SIAI-Marchetti S.55X organized in eight squadrons, took off from Orbetello, touching ground at Amsterdam, Londonderry, Reykjavik, Cartwright, Shediac, Montreal and Chicago, on the occasion of the Universal Expo where, on 15 July 1933, the overflowing joy of the American crowd greeted the Atlantics in a whirlwind of applause and celebration. Three days later the lights of New York are reached and the triumph awarded has no equal. On July 25 the seaplanes took off for the return flight, arriving in Italy on August 12 and concluding last mass cruise.
The very high rank of Air Marshal awarded by the King is a reward for his perseverance, faith and heroism, civis romanus.
In January 1934 Balbo embarked for Tripoli to rule the colony entrusted to him by the Duce. And another great challenge, this time on ground, was waiting for him: the building of a Coastal road that surrounded the entire Libyan coast, from Tunisia to Egypt, inaugurated by Mussolini in 1937.
In 1939 the migration of the Twenty Thousand is imminent, the largest colony migration of our times, Italians ready to fertilize the land of the Duce, the land prepared by Italo Balbo.
In the meantime, the Italian cruiser San Giorgio defends itself from the British attack carried out through Bristol Blenheim bombers. Among the columns of smoke the silhouettes of the Savoia Marchetti, close to landing, are mistaken for British aircrafts and consequently targeted. Porro, thanks to a diversionary manoeuvre, manages not to be hit by the batteries of the San Giorgio but Italo Balbo and his crew crashed to the ground in a bonfire of flames that went on burning for a few hours.
Thus the Air Marshal dies, a victim of friendly fire, in the sky, his most coveted homeland.
The great heart of Italy, outside and inside the borders of the homeland, wept Italo Balbo for days, the great colonizer of masses, ruler of imperial lands, unsurpassed long-haul aviator of continents and oceans.