Frecce Tricolori tour of Italy
The Frecce Tricolori trailing the green, white and red smokes during an airshow. (Image credit: Author)

On May 25, 2020, the 10 MB-339A/PAN jets of the Frecce Tricolori, the display team of the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force) will begin an unprecedented tour of the country.

Similarly to what done in the U.S., where the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds along with other units have carried out flyovers in recognition of health care, first responder, law enforcement and all front-line personnel during the COVID-19 crisis the Italian Air Force display team will perform dedication flyovers around the country. Named “Abbraccio Tricolore” (Tricolor Hug) the tour includes 21 flyovers in 5 days with the gran finale, in Rome, on June 2, when the team will fly over Capital for the Festa della Repubblica, the Italian National Day and Republic Day. The Frecce Tricolori will fly over all the Italian regions, spreading the colors of the Italian National Flag to symbolically embrace all the country as a sign of unity, solidarity and recovery for the health emergency.

The Frecce will also fly over Codogno, in Lombardy, northern Italy, where the first COVID-19 patient in Italy was diagnosed: the small town became the centre of the COVID-19 pandemic in Italy, triggering the national emergency, and was quarantined on Feb. 22, 2020.

During pandemic and subsequent nationwide lockdown, the Frecce have emerged as a symbol of unity: as already explained in a previous article, a clip showing the Frecce’s ten MB-339A/PAN aircraft performing their final maneuver went viral in March, to such an extent even President Trump used the clip for a tweet of encouragement to Italy. Some users on social media said the scene symbolized the end of the Coronavirus: the larger formation trailing a tricolor smoke encompasses the smoke trail of the soloist “virus plane”, turning it invisible. No matter the meaning people gave it, the maneuver was “just” the moving end of the Frecce’s display performed in harmony with the broadcasting of the voice of Luciano Pavarotti singing “Nessun dorma”, the famous aria from the opera “Tourandot”.