October 2, 2013
By Dan Namowitz
A hundred years of seaplane flying from a lake renowned as one of Europe’s most stunning resort and vacation spots was to be celebrated Oct. 5 on Lake Como in the Alpine foothills of Italy.
The centenary celebration was to be held at the facilities of Aero Club Como, the largest seaplane facility and flight school in Europe. The aero club, founded in 1930, claims a Guinness World’s Record as “the oldest seaplane operation in the world.”
“Como is unique among historical water flying places, as it is the only one where regular seaplane activity still continues today,” said Aero Club Como in an announcement of the events.
AOPA reported on earning a seaplane rating on Lake Como, which is situated in Italy’s Lombardy region, in the 1999 feature “Postcards: Splashdown on Lake Como.”
The 100th-anniversary celebration marks Lake Como’s role in the history of seaplane flying in Europe, especially highlighting its role as the site of “one of the earliest seaplane gatherings and contests.” There, in 1913, French pilot and air racer Roland Garros won the Gran Premio dei Laghi. (Garros would go on to become a World War I fighter pilot, losing his life in combat in 1918 at the age of 29. The French Open tennis tournament, one of the four “Grand Slam” events on the pro tennis circuit, is named after Garros.)
The 2013 celebration will re-create the Gran Premio dei Laghi in a non-competitive format with a flight “from Como touching Bellagio, Lecco, the Adda river, the Ticino River, Pavia and
Pallanza, and Lake Maggiore,” Aero Club Como said.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.
A touch of history, affordable flying, unique sightseeing, a good meal, and a community of pilots: Isn’t that what general aviation is all about?
Getting the job done on the local and national levels requires long-term planning, a hands-on approach, and keeping the effort moving, said Sean Collins, AOPA’s Eastern regional manager.
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