The Piaggio P166C model I-PIAS flew his last flight of his first life in early summer of 1985 landing in a little city airport of Milan (Milano Bresso LIMB)
Born in 1963 in Genova it was originally a B version of the particular twin engine pushing propeller seagull wing light transport aircraft. Soon after the first flights Piaggio following the request of some Australian commuting Airlines developed a special version of the P166. The main undercarriage had a different kinematik mechanism which retracted the landing gear in two external nacelles on the fuselage bottom sides. Two additional side windows were installed over the main gear to permit an unobstructed view at the 5 more passengers that could find place in the bigger rear compartment of the aircraft. This way the aircraft equipped with the new more powerful 380HP Lyicoming IGSO540 A1C engines could easily transport 1pilot and 12 passengers.
This aircraft construction number 411 was the demonstration aircraft of Piaggio and was flown to the main aeronautical events all over the world. At the end of the seventies I-PIAS (this were the first registration marks) was sold to an Italian commuting company called Transavio and was mainly used for passenger line flights from Milan (LIML) and Pisa(LIRP) to Elba Island. Increasing fuel costs and company problems lead to the grounding of the aircraft which was literally abandoned on Milano Bresso field for more than 18 years.
And here starts the second life of our beauty. It is early 2002 and 2 really mad Italian air force officers, one pilot and his chief of technical department who is a private pilot have the insane idea to restore to flight condition an old Piaggio. The P166 is their choice. After several months of research the I-PIAS was found and finally bought from Transavio for the stunning price of 50 euros. The aircraft was home of thousands of wasps and had been for a long time “home” of some homeless immigrates.(ethnical graffiti have been found decorating the inside of the aircraft) and its outer skin was used to promote DJ NELSON ( the career of this young artist probably did not improved too much, see airliners .net I-PIAS picture.)
Under the technical supervision of FEDERAZIONE CAP with full cooperation of his senior engineer Mr Rodolfo Galli and with total support of the president Alberto Folchini.
The aircraft was dismantled, Propellers ,engines, wings, were taken away two trucks were used to transfer the Piaggio for its 600 km trip to Guidonia a little city east of Rome. A hangar near the old military airport of LIRG one of the oldest airports in Italy, became the beauty clinic of our Piaggio until 2009 . Nine years, 17500 working hours and a bloody river of money, the complete reconstruction of all the aircraft systems:
Electrical system from the first wire to the n° 10000 with the complete reconstruction of the missing overhead panel and main electrical system box. Every component changed, bench tested or overhauled following the original Piaggio or manufacturer manuals.
Hydraulic system, Fuel System, Air system pretty the same, the aircraft painting was removed until the bare aluminium came in sight and was retreated to the final painting.
Fin, elevator, stabilizer, flaps, ailerons, flight controls and engines cables , every single bolt, nut, changed.
Engines overhauled with new pistons kit, fuel pumps and carburetors flying back and forth from Italy to USA.
Windshields, windows ,seats lighting system, passenger seats, pilot seats all changed with new components or undergone heavy maintenance. All the internal fittings removed and renewed.
Landing gear removed from the aircraft was refitted from Piaggio ,new tires were installed.
Propellers overhauled, fuel tanks refitted, I simply get too tired to recall every single work done on the aircraft.
Complete reconstruction of the main instrument panel.(every single instrument had been taken away in the easiest way just simply cutting wires and connectors!)
Time, a lot of Time spent especially from Giuseppe Anastasi and some goodwilling ex ITAF warrant officers working on what was slowly becoming again a flying machine.
November 2010 the new ANASTASI/PIVETTA R166C with new registration marks I-FENI (coming from the Italian word FENICOTTERI that means Flamingos, two of these birds were present on the insigna of the 303°squadron of the ITAF where both our crazy boys had the honor to serve, was transferred again on trucks inside the military airport of Guidonia.
A real Hangar, with several Siai Marchetti S208 as neighbours is I-FENI home for the last year of the restoration.
Engines, propellers, gear, week by week every single piece comes again in place and during the summer of 2011 the final inspection from ENAC (Italian CAA) gives the ok to the test flights of the aircraft.
Some more months of taxi and high speed taxi cks on the runway and finally :
The 2 November 2011 the crew Anastasi/Pivetta followed on the ground by a little crowd of friends and collegues, took off with I-FENI in a sunny day for the first flight of the second life of cn 411.
Soon after the take off a Piaggio P166DL3 of the Italian air force, in one of the last flights before the grounding off the P166 line, joined our Piaggio for a formation flight which was photographically fixed from a Siai Marchetti S208 that was the vector of the “press”.
From that moment after the non eventful test flights, and the achievement of the final Permit to Fly the aircraft has flown the happy crew to destinations like Lampedusa, Pantelleria, Figari, Bastia, Catania, Venice and more and more other fantastic places.
At the annual meeting of the Federazione Cap in Reggio Emilia I-FENI won the first place as best Italian reconstruction project.
This story is a tribute to all the people that day by day with their work make restoration projects all over the world possible and must be a clear help to all those people that during the way are losing determination to complete their projects.
Everyone can succeed if he can find in himself enough passion and perseverance.
Fabrizio Pivetta and Giuseppe Anastasi