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Duo in love and in the sky: Italians return for air show

China Daily | Updated: 2023-11-06 08:47

Four planes of the Pioneer Team from Italy stage an aerobatic performance at the Nanchang Air Show on Oct 28. ZHOU GUOQIANG/FOR CHINA DAILY

NANCHANG — 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 Jiangxi province from Oct 27 to 29. Six teams representing the highest level of aerobatic performance from home and abroad took turns showing off their skills. In addition to two Chinese aerobatic teams, the AeroSuperBatics Wingwalkers, the Airborne Pyrotechnics and the Global Stars aerobatic team, all from Britain, as well as the Pioneer Team from Italy, performed midair ballets for the crowds.

Corrado Rusalen, the leader of the Pioneer Team, arrived in Nanchang nearly a week in advance to do some intensive training, become familiar with the venue and coordinate with various departments. The aircraft used in the show had been disassembled for transport to Nanchang by container ship, so he arrived last Sunday to start the process of reassembly. The event marked 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.

This year, Rusalen participated in the show with his wife, Silvia Rappo, who is also the youngest female 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."

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.

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

At the show, Rusalen was also happy to reunite with flight teams from other countries. He said that coming to China to perform has given 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.


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