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Como's Seaplanes
Lake Como, Italy
September 2007
Italy has a fine seaplane heritage dating back to the earliest flights of water based aircraft. You only have to visit the fabulous Italian Air Force museum (Museo Storico) at the former seaplane base at Vigna di Valle on Lake Bracciano to see a fine collection of indigenous aquatic flying machines. 

The 'Aero Club Como' is based at Como on the southern lake shore of Lago di Como in Northern Italy and is the home of a variety of water based aircraft. The fantastic setting offers some stunning photography. I was able to take a couple of brief breaks from a family holiday to take these images. The whole area is very accessible offering some wonderful opportunities for photography. During my short times there I certainly did not explore every avenue, which could have included hiring a seaplane or boat. Instead I walked around the immediate area, to get shots of the frequent flying activity. The backdrops are fabulous, Lake Como is surrounded by steep sided mountains, with historic villages and towns scattered along its shoreline.

An aero club with a remarkable history
Although Como can trace it's aviation connections to well before, with flight experiments, and balloon flights, it was in 1913 that the first seaplanes flew from Lake Como, taking part in a European seaplane competition. The Gran Premio de Laghi race meeting for idrovolanti (seaplanes) as it was called, was won by French aviator Roland Garros in a Morane-Saulnier fitted with floats. In the 1920s a hangar was constructed for the based seaplanes, but it was not until 1930 that 'Aero Club Como' was formed to formally provide pilot training. In those days they had a fleet of Caproni Ca 100 Idro float-planes, and later sunk by the German's in the lake. After the World War Two the club re-equipped with some more, and now aging, Ca 100s, before taking delivery of the Macchi MB 308. Post war at the Aero Club amphibian aircraft consisted of the Republic Sea Bee and Piaggio P 136. In more recent years the Lake Buccaneer, Maule M7, Lake Renegade, PA-18 Super Cub and Cessna's; 150, 172, 180 and 185 and more, have all flown with the Aero Club.
Departing Lake LA-250 Renegade (I-AQUA) follows the line of Lake Como
You have to see for yourself
Today the Aero Club can provide training for pilots who want to get a seaplane rating as well as provide the most spectacular of site seeing flights for the numerous tourists who flock to Lake Como each year. With the appropriate license you can even rent a seaplane and fly solo.

Hopefully I will be able to get back here to further explore the numerous opportunities for some stunning photographs. A good time to consider is in June on the summer solstice, when the Aero Club each year organises a special flying day which lasts until the sun goes down.

The Aero Club's informative website is in Italian, and shows links to English pages. However many of these have not been set up. I did email them on a couple of occasions to point out the missing web pages and to ask about flights, unfortunately they did not respond.
Cessna 172N Skyhawk 100 II (I-SAAB) departing to the north.
Left to right: Cessna 172N Skyhawk II (I-PVLC).
Left to right: Maule M7-235C Super Rocket (I-WAVE).
Left to right: Lake LA-250 Renegade (I-AQUA). Note in the centre image Cessna XL-19B Bird Dog (I-EIAQ) on the lake side, which sadly did not fly while I was at Como. The LA-250 Renegade has a range of 500 miles and a cruising speed of 110 knots. Another Aero Club aircraft which did not take to the air during my visits was PA-18-150 Super Cub (I-BUFF), seen here in front of the hangar to the side of the ramp to the lake.
Left to right: Cessna 172N Skyhawk II (I-SAAB).