Frecce Tricolori: A short history of Italy’s aerobatic jets

Italy’s Frecce Tricolori have been performing spectacular aerobatics for six decades.

The Frecce Tricolori, literally “Tricolour Arrows”, are the aerobatic demonstration team of the Italian Air Force and are among Italy’s best known national symbols.

The military jets, famous for emitting plumes of the three colours from the Italian flag, take to the skies to mark important events and public holidays in Italy, including Festa della Repubblica on 2 June.

Italy’s air force established the 313th Gruppo Addestramento Acrobatico, better known as the Frecce Tricolori, at the Rivolto air base on 1 March 1961.

Photo credit: Karolis Kavolelis /

The inaugural Frecce Tricolori flight comprised six North American F-86 Sabers, flying from Grosseto to Rivolto, near Udine.

Since 1982 the planes used are the two-seater fighter-trainer Aermacchi MB-339-A/PAN.

The Frecce Tricolori comprise 10 aircraft, nine flying in close formation plus a soloist, with an additional three military jets kept in reserve as spare aircraft.

The jets are piloted by officers from the flight operational departments of the air force who, following a rigorous selection process, join the Pattuglia Acrobatica Nazionale (PAN) or national aerobatic team.

The show season for the Frecce Tricolori runs from May to October, with approximately 35 air displays annually.

For full details see the Frecce Tricolori website. Cover photo: PriceM /