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Through the lens: The Frecce Tricolori

Following up on last week’s article, where we covered the Italian Air Force at RIAT 2014, this week we are featuring the Frecce Tricolori.The Frecce Tricolori (which translates as the Tricolour Arrows), are officially known as the 313° Gruppo Addestramento Acrobatico or the 313th Aerobatic Training Squadron. The team was formed in 1961 as an Air Force team, replacing many unofficial teams that had been sponsored by various commands of the Air Force. The actual flying team is officially known as the Pattuglia Acrobatica Nazionale (National Aerobatic Patrol). The full official name of the flying team is the 313° Gruppo Addestramento Acrobatico, Pattuglia Acrobatica Nazionale (PAN) Frecce Tricolori.

The team flies the Aermacchi MB-339-A/PAN fighter-trainer aircraft. The MB-339 is a twin seat trainer and light attack aircraft. The MB-339-A/PAN is a special variant of the MB-339A for the Frecce Tricolori aerobatic team, its adds a smoke generator and removes the wing tip tanks.

Italian Air Force Aermacchi MB-339-A/PAN MM55053 Tail Number 0 of the Frecce Tricolori.
Italian Air Force Aermacchi MB-339-A/PAN MM55053 Tail Number 0 of the Frecce Tricolori. Being prepared to fly in the opening day flypast.

The team flies 11 aircraft to any show and flies 10 aircraft in it’s display. It is the most number of aircraft used by any team for an aerobatic display. The tricolori was awarded the Lockheed Martin Cannestra Trophy at RIAT 2014 for the best flying demonstration by an overseas participant.

The team begins it’s display by taking off in two groups of five. Five aircraft roll down the runway in a triangle pattern and take off in perfect sequence, never breaking the triangle pattern.

The first five aircraft of the Frecce Tricolori take off for their display.
The first five aircraft of the Frecce Tricolori take off for their display.
The second group of five aircraft. You can see here how the aircraft take off in a perfect sequence.
The second group of five aircraft. You can see here how the aircraft take off in a perfect sequence.

The team then immediately launches into it’s first sequence which is to rejoin and perform a Schneider turn. The turn lines up the entire team with the runway where they form a triangle formation and perform a flypast with white smoke on.

Frecce Tricolori performing a flypast with the entire team.
Frecce Tricolori performing a flypast with the entire team.

Towards the end of the flypast the team begins a sequence known as the triangle formation loop. The entire triangle makes a steep climb and does a loop which is then followed by a sharp climbing bank and another  loop. The begining of this sequence is indicated by the team changing smoke colours to the tams namesake the red, white and green Italian tricolour.

Frecce_Tricolori_EGVA_WM_2630
The Frecce Tricolori starting their triangle loops.

After completing the loops the team shifts into a diamond formation and start their signature move the big apple. The entire diamond will perform a vertical climb and split into two triangle formations at the top of the loop . The two groups loop around and them cross at the bottom of the loop.

The Frecce Tricolori at the top of the Big Apple.
The Frecce Tricolori at the top of the Big Apple. The two groups will perform an inverted loop and cross at the bottom of the loop.

The team then performs a long series of splits and rejoins in which the groups perform various crosses and solo maneuvers. The entire display takes about 25 minutes from the time they take off till their final maneuver.

The two groups perform a very high speed cross.
The two groups perform a very high speed cross.

The team closes it’s display by once again forming the colours of the Italian flag in a flypast over the runway. They then begin to land in sequence.

Frecce_Tricolori_EGVA_WM_2703
The final flypast and the Italian flag is painted over the sky by the Tricolori.

Which is your favourite aerobatic display team? Please tell us in a comment bellow. Next week we will be featuring a unique aircraft from RIAT, so please check back soon.

Pictures are copyright of Vedant Agarwal and are used with permission, all rights reserved. Please do not reproduce in any form.

About Vedant Agarwal

A frequent flyer for both work and pleasure - Vedant has held elite status on many of the major alliances and airlines. Also an avid aviation photographer, his pictures have been published in and on the covers of many international publications.

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