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The 50th anniversary of the F-104 Starfighter and the last year of active service within the Italian Air Force (Aeronautica Militaria Italiana - AMI) were the reason for an axcellent airshow at Pratica di Mare during the Pentecost weekend.
Many enthusiast travelled the long way to the airbase that is located just south of Rome and is the home of the test facilities of the AMI.

50Where? Pratica di Mare - Italy
When? 30/06/2004

999 PilotBesides the hardcore enthusiats (some even came from Japan to Italy) and the families and visitors that just wanted to have a nice day out a lot of former One-O-Four pilots gathered as well to celebrate their famous plane.
The AMI is the only airforce that is still flying the Starfighter in the F-104S ASA-M version, nicknamed "Spillone" (great sting). However the number of airworthy jets is decreasing rapidly as October, 31st 2004 will mark the day of the last flight of the Spillone.
Today about 20 F-104 are still flying and the AMI did their best to bring as many Starfighters in the air as possible during that week-end.

The Air Show

SmileOf course not only F-104s could be seen in the air that week-end. A lot of aircraft of the AMI were performing a flight display (Eurofighter, Tornado IDS, F-16A, AMX, C-130J, Piaggio Avanti) as well as jets from other countries (Belgian and Dutch F-16, Swiss F-18 Hornet and the Patrouille Suisse) but the main focus of interest was for sure on the Starfighters:
An impressive line-up of 9 Spillones on the flightline was a sight that might never be seen again. When all of them started up their engines and the good old J-79, especially of the TF-104G-M began howling, one felt being taken back in time. But that was already after the first highlight of the day: a formation fly-by consisting of a F-104, an F.3 Tornado, an F-16A ADF and a Eurofighter, representing past, present and future of the Italian Air Defence.
Shortly afterwards the 9 F-104s took-off and left a smoketrail on the horizon that could still be seen quite a while afterwards. 2 fly-bys in a diamond formation followed with the 3 special colored Starfighters in the middle (the red one in Ducati colors of the 9° Stormo, he blue TF-104G of the 4° Stormo and the elegant black one). But the Starfighter had also twice the possibility to show what they can: fast fly-bys and sheer climb capability. Very interesting to see the Eurofighter display in contrast to this!
To conclude the show the Frecce Tricolori took of and filled the blue Italian sky with smoke in the national colors green-white-red. As a final surprise the escorted the red 9-99 Starfighter after their display along the flightline, which zoomed off into the sky after the second fly-by. In order to perform a really fast fly-by, that caught many by surprise. Including me...

STARFIGHTERS: F-104S & TF-104G

001 ---- 002 ---- 003 ---- 004 ---- 005

Formation Fly-Bys

006 ---- 007 ---- 008 ---- 009 ---- 010

F-104S & Frecce Tricolori

011 ---- 012 ---- 013 ---- 014 ---- 015

Solo Fly-Bys

016 ---- 017 ---- 018 ---- 019 ---- 020
021 ---- 022 ---- 023 ---- 024 ---- 025
026 ---- 027 ---- 028 ---- 029 ---- 030

Flight Display Demonstartions of the Italian Air Force and Navy, the highlights beeing the Harriers and the Pelican:

 

Tornado IDS

031 ---- 032 ---- 033 ---- 034 ---- 035

F-16A ADF & Eurofighter

036 ---- 037 ---- 038 ---- 039 ---- 040

AMX

041 ---- 042 ---- 043

Marina Harrier AV8B

046 ---- 047 ---- 048 ---- 049 ---- 050

C-27J & C-130 Hercules

051 ---- 052 ---- 053 ---- 054 ---- 055

Marina Merlin

056 ---- 057 ---- 058 ---- 059

Agusta A109 & HH-3F Pelikan

061 ---- 062 ---- 063 ---- 064 ---- 065

Flight displays of visiting Air Forces and national Display Teams performing at Pratica di mare 2004, including the Frecce Tricolori:

 

Swiss F-18C Hornet

066 ---- 067 ---- 068 ---- 069 ---- 070

Belgian F-16

071 ---- 072 ---- 073 ---- 074 ---- 075

Mirage 2000 & Saab 105OE

076 ---- 077 ---- 078 ---- 079 ---- 080

Frecce Tricolori

081 ---- 082 ---- 083 ---- 084 ---- 085

Patrouille Suisse

086 ---- 087 ---- 088

The Static Display

StaticIn addition to this fantastic flight display a lot of colourful Italian helicopters were in the static display, as well as nearly all aircraft of the AMI from the AMX to the Breguet Atlantique. Foreign participation was sparse, but included nevertheless interesting examples like Turkish RF-4E, the German s/c MiG-29 and a Hungarian Mi-17 and Mi-24.
A good start of the year, many of the following shows in 2004 will have difficulties to outperform this show [besides some organisational problems, but that's another story...]!!

!! Farewell One-O-Four !!

Static Display

091 ---- 092 ---- 093 ---- 094 ---- 095
096 ---- 097 ---- 098 ---- 099 ---- 100
101 ---- 102 ---- 103 ---- 104 ---- 105
106 ---- 107 ---- 108 ---- 109 ---- 110
111 ---- 112

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