Menu Sign In Contact FAQ
Banner
Welcome to our forums

Flying Ultralights in the Northeast of Italy - a teaser

As promised, a little primer on ultralight flying in Italy.

First of all, definitions: in Italy, ultralights can operate on two kinds of “airfields”*:

1. A “campo di volo” is an airstrip only for ultralight aircraft (or other uncertified aircraft). In regulatory terms, a campo di volo is nothing, i.e. it is just a field used by someone for flying purposes. You can take your back garden and call it your campo di volo, without even notifying anybody. Hence, the total number of campi di volo is not known. However, there are roughly 300 published campi di volo in Italy.
2. An “Aviosuperficie” is an airstrip that can be used by both ultralights and certified aircraft. In order to become an Aviosuperficie, the strip has to fulfil certain requirements (windsock, runway edge markers) and the airfield has to be notified to and approved by the Italian CAA (“ENAC”). Aviosuperfici thus resemble the unlicensed airfields in the UK. The total number of published aviosuperfici in Italy is about 150.

(*Since 2010, ultralights can now also operate on many of the “aeroporti” (licensed airfields), as long as they comply with certain specifications and equipment requirements.)

The rules applying to ultralights in Italy are hard to summarize in a nutshell. I have a summary (in German) here. A google translation into English can be found here.

Just to point out the rules regarding minimum altitudes and maximum altitudes: in principle, ultralights in Italy may not operate above 500 feet on weekdays and 1000 feet on weekends and there are no minimum altitudes. However, there is a rule that microlights are not allowed to overfly inhabited areas or groups of persons (and this rule is often “stretched” a little bit, as can be seen on the following photos… ).

Whoever is astounded by the lack of minimum altitudes and the definition of maximum altitudes has to consider that the ultralight category is not only about high-end three-axis ultralights, but also contains the most basic trikes and even motorized parachutes, which, in sheer numbers, still form the majority of registered microlights in Italy. On the other end of the scale is probably this:

These are the reported performace specs:
Climb at 130 KTS 3800 ft/min
Cruise 194 KTS indicated at 60% torque
Cruise descent at 500ft/min ROD 225 KTS
Stall 38 KTS power off, dirty, 42 KTS clean
Brake release to FL 95 less than 3 min at 80% climb power and 150 KTS…

On the more “regular” scale, there is obviously a big number of Tecnams flying in Italy. The P92 is very popular, along with the P96 and its successor, the P2002 (“Sierra”). I used to fly one of those a lot between 2009 and 2011:

I really used to like it, apart from the fact the even moderately tall persons don’t fit very well and tend to have their view ahead slightly obstructed by the canopy structure. Otherwise, it’s a solid, well-flying machine, doing 200km/h and getting in and out of any 300 metre grass strips even with two on board.

Between 2011 and 2012, I used to fly an Evektor Eurostar SL (the second generation), which is quite similar but slightly slower:

Anyway, here are some “scenic” photos showing the joys of ultralight flying in Italy…

Campo di volo Termon (province of Trento). 300 meters uphill, with a mountain at the end:

Another view from Termon:

A nice low-level view of the fortified town of Montagnana (province of Padova):

Villa Contarini at Piazzola sul Brenta (province of Padova)

And here’s the airfield of Piazzola sul Brenta, one of the historic ultralight nests of northeastern Italy. This is actually an aviosuperficie and almost 600 meters long.

Adriatic beaches somewhere between Venice and Jesolo.

Beaches at Fano (province of Pesaro and Urbino)

These must be a lot of fun…

This…

…must have been one of the most exciting approaches and landings I have ever done. The strip is quite deep down in the valley (photo doesn’t show that) and is about 300 metres with a significant left-to-right turn in it. On final, one has to descend briskly and pass at the same height of that village which is up on a rock. My heart was racing when I flew this one and as soon as I touched down, shoved in the throttle to safely get out of that valley again… unforgettable!

Crossing the River Po’ happens on every flight from North to Central Italy.

Crossing some mountains near Lake Garda in some difficult conditions due to clouds. This is something I would not have done in a heavy conventional SEP, but in a P92, with its good visibility, good maneuvrability and slow stall speeds, it’s a totally different story…

Flying low along the shores of Lake Como.

Aviosuperficie Kong (yes, that’s the name), south of Lake Lecco. 290 metres of asphalt.

Campo di volo Marmirolo (province of Mantova). A 330-metre strip next to a nice agriturismo. The airstrip has since been closed.

Campo di volo “Azienda Corbetta” (province of Ferrara).

This is a very special place. It’s nothing but a family’s farm with a strip next to it. For many years, pilots could drop in every Sunday and have lunch with the family, in their own living room. One of thousands of illegal “restaurants” in Italy. Unfortunately, I hear the place has recently been closed.

Aviosuperficie Bagnoli di Sopra (province of Padova). 1000 meters of “billiard table” grass and as many touch ‘n go’s as you like…

Even this is an airfield. Arqua Polesine (province of Rovigo). This one is private, though.

Famous italian aerobatic squad flying Pioneer 300s.

One among hundreds: Aviosuperficie di Sassuolo, province of Modena. At the airfield’s restaurant, on weekdays, lunch (consisiting of three plates, water, wine and espresso) will set you back by 10 Euros…

One of the most beautiful airfields in the Northeast: Aviosuperficie “Nervesa della Battaglia” (province of Treviso). Home of several historic/replica airplanes and an atmosphere that can’t be described.

The Lakes of Commachio (province of Ferrara). Height:100 feet.

Beaches near Senigallia (province of Ancona)

In the centre of the image: campo di volo Senigallia. 500 metres of runway and 500 metres to the beach.

Beautiful views from Aviosuperficie Torraccia in San Marino. The Adriatic can be seen in the background.

Probably the most difficult airstrip I ever landed at (full stop): campo di volo “Vervó” in province of Trento. 270 meters uphill with varying degrees of slope.

The “forbidden” airfield: Aviosuperficie del Tonale in province of Brescia. 800 meters of sloping runway at an elevation of 6278 feet!

Here’s the panorama from Aviosuperficie del Tonale (not my photo!):

Marble production in the vicinity of Brescia.

The Grotte di Catullo, at the very tip of Sirmione peninsula, Lake Garda.

Simply a very different perspective when flying at 200 feet AGL…

City of Piacenza.

The castle of Valeggio sul Mincio (province of Mantova), in a beautiful evening light.

My overall favourite teritory for ultralight flying: River Piave area in province of Treviso:

This airfield (Aviosuperficie “Grave di Prapadopoli”) is situated on an island between two “arms” of River Piave.

Once again, along the shores of the Upper Adriatic near Venice.

Caorle (province of Treviso).

The (excellent) restaurant at the Aviosuperficie “Spessa – Speziana”, in province of Pavia.

Gardaland, near Lazise (province of Verona).

Lake Garda, near Lazise. Monte Baldo in the background.

Last but not least, the people in the microlight scene have a good sense of humor… notice in the restroom at Caorle airfield.

Finally, a short video of a few moments of low-flying along the River Adige in the Eurostar SL. I did not do this very often since I think it is relatively dangerous (especially when filming…), but every now and then… you know…

Enjoy!


´

Last Edited by boscomantico at 06 Nov 21:44
Frankfurt (EDFE, EDFC, EDFZ), Germany

No minimum altitude? Hard to believe you can have so much fun and still be legal .

Are there microlight clubs in Italy which cater to “pilot tourists”? For example, I’d fancy flying there for a few days but don’t speak a word of Italian apart from Pizza, Pasta and Grappa.

LOAN Wiener Neustadt Ost, Austria

Holy cow, what a wonderful post! My experience with this world is limited to flying a Tecnam Sierra from Sabaudia (a little south of Rome) plus a bunch of planned and unplanned visits to other Campi di Volo and Aviosuperfici on a motorcycle. I thought of shipping my vintage N-registered taildragger to Italy for a couple of years and vacationing with it, but the VAT and tax issues are worrying. I might still do it some day!

Otherwise, I think maybe Boscomantico might be toying with me, as evidenced by one of the photos… (just kidding!)

Knowing that Motoguzzi comes from that region and Silvaire is into motorcycles, I have a suspicion …

LOAN Wiener Neustadt Ost, Austria

Right first time! Its the town of Mandello del Lario on Lake Como, and the Moto Guzzi factory.

Aviosuperficie del Tonale is really interesting… 6278 feet elevation! I just looked at its location on Google maps. I’ve been back and forth across that pass on the road many times and never knew there was a runway there.

Last Edited by Silvaire at 06 Nov 21:59

No minimum altitude? Hard to believe you can have so much fun and still be legal .

For many years (don’t know how it is today) Italy had a maximum altitude for microlight flying of 500ft.

EDDS - Stuttgart

A “campo di volo” is an airstrip only for ultralight aircraft (or other uncertified aircraft).

Does it mean certified aircraft are prohibited there, or merely that landing is at pilot’s own risk?

LKBU near Prague, Czech Republic

Bosco what a great photo essay! Have many happy memories of living in il bel paese and while I flew quite extensively – made it as far south as Catania on an enjoyable low level VFR flight along the coast (you get to see F-16s in the opposite direction, sme level as they also transit using the low level VFR corridor) – was not able to explore campi di volo.

If you have the Italian Mountain Rating (for which I believe you may need a national licence? i.e. you are not able to add it as a rating to your EASA licence) I believe you are allowed to operate CofA aircraft off airport, that is into a campo di volo. Belluno used to offer a course for the rating – and is possibly one of the few places where the training takes you genuinely off airport.

I definitely hope to take the vintage Super Cub to Italy – with a slight tailwind it could just about make Andrewsfield to Linate non stop (albeit taking eight hours doing so). One of the Linate executive jet shops has a similar Super Cub tucked away at the back of the hangar; in the summer it proudly takes up a parking spot between the Gulfstreams and Challengers.

Enstone (EGTN), Oxford (EGTK)

Ultra,

yes, certified aircraft are prohibited from landing there. It would be considered an off-airport landing.

Robert,

I would not know that having an italian mountain rating allows pilots to land off-airport anywhere they like. And yes, I would not think one coulk add an italian (national) mountain rating to anything but an italian-issued license. But I am not 100% sure on both accounts.

Anyway, if you take the ~ 150 aviosuperfici plus maybe another 50 small and GA-friendly “aeroporti”, I guess you have enough places to go for an entire year…

But this thread is about ultralight flying…

Last Edited by boscomantico at 07 Nov 20:19
Frankfurt (EDFE, EDFC, EDFZ), Germany

yes, certified aircraft are prohibited from landing there. It would be considered an off-airport landing.

There is nothing illegal with an off airport landing.

22 Posts
Sign in to add your message

Back to Top