Italian Pilot Couple's 'Sky Ballet' in East China

 November 22, 2023

NANCHANG, Oct. 29 (Xinhua) — At the 2023 Nanchang Air Show, the Pioneer Team from Italy provided the audience with a wonderful aerobatic performance. Accompanied by joyful music, four planes flew about the sky with green, white and red trails of smoke streaming behind.

The 2023 China Aviation Industry Conference and Nanchang Air Show was held in east China's Jiangxi Province from Oct. 27 to 29.

Six teams representing the highest level of aerobatic performance from home and abroad took turns to show off their skills. In addition to two Chinese aerobatic teams, there were the Aerosuperbatics Wingwalkers, the Airborne Pyrotechnics, and the Global Stars Aerobatic Team, all from Britain, and the Pioneer Team from Italy — performing mid-air ballet for the crowds.

Corrado Rusalen, the leader of the Pioneer Team, arrived in Nanchang nearly a week in advance to do some intensive training, becoming familiar with the venue and coordinating with various departments. The aircraft had been disassembled for transport to Nanchang by container ship, so he arrived last Sunday to start the process of re-assembly.

This is Rusalen's sixth time performing in China, and he has grown to love the experience. "Coming to China again is like meeting old friends. When we fly a plane up into the sky, it's just like embracing our friends," he said.

Since the Pioneer Team was established in 2005, it has performed in more than 20 countries, including Japan, Spain and France, with a total of over 300 performances so far.

This year, Rusalen participated in the show with his wife Silvia Rappo, who is also the youngest woman pilot on the team.

"She flies in the number-two position, and it's not common to find teams with a woman in the flight formation," he said proudly. "She's my wife in daily life, and my left wing during flight."

During the daytime, the Pioneer Team made colorful patterns in the sky with trails of smoke. At sunset, the team set off flash bombs and wing fireworks to make the show more spectacular. Their performance this year prompted cheers and applause from the crowd.

Rusalen said that he first met Rappo when she came to the company where he used to work to buy a plane for personal use. They fell in love and now share their lives as both colleagues and spouses.

"Aerobatics was like Cupid, bringing me and my wife together," he said.

At the show, Rusalen also felt happy to reunite with flight teams from other countries. He said that coming to China to perform has provided him the opportunity to make friends with more pilots from other countries.

"We get in touch even when we're not performing in a show, and we send messages and cooperate with each other," he said.

Looking to the future, Rusalen and Rappo intend to keep putting on air displays around the world.

"We'll continue to fly to the best of our ability, so that more people can experience the charm of aerobatic performances," Rappo said.


(Source: Xinhua)


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