The military airport Mario De Bernardi, also called military airport of Pratica di Mare (because of the fraction in which it resides), is located in the metropolitan area of Rome, 20 km from the capital. The airport was established in 1937 and it was qualified as an air training ground. During the Second World War, it was the scene of a particular historical event such as the landing of Mussolini after his release from Campo Imperatore.

In 1957 the air base of Pratica Di Mare became the permanent seat of the Experimental Flight Division. Two years later, in 1959, the airport was named in honor of the pilot Colonel Mario De Bernardi, Gold Medal to aircraft value, ace of World War I and the first test of a jet aircraft in Italy occurred in 1940. Until March 1961, the department chose her current symbol: a winged Icarus on a blue background later turned black.

Currently the military airport of Pratica di Mare consists of four large departments. The Experimental Flying Unit-EFU is responsible for flight and ground tests for aircrafts and aerospace materials. EFU is then structured in three groups: 311th Squadron Flight, Group Technical and Software Management Group. The role of the SMG is to solve all problems concerning to the aircraft software. Two super-equipped and vanguard rooms have been
established: the first one called Avionic Weapon Rig and the second one called Weapon System Support Rig, which host a replica of the cockpit of the Eurofighter Typhoon, technological ultra simulator that can represent different scenarios.

The second department is the Group for Aerospace Engineering. It was founded on July 2014 with the objective of being the technological driving force for the expansion of environmental expertise from the aeronautical to the aerospace domain.

The Chemical Department which acts thecontrol analysis through nondestructive testing (NDT) in order to check whether or not there are any defects on the details of aeronautical use. The course of these controls is performed by means of optical microscopy techniques and metallography.

The Armament Department deals with different things. It performs technical and operational evaluations, trials and investigations of the effectiveness of weapons systems. In addition, the department deals with issues related to the function and interaction of the weapon-aircraft system. The armament department focuses particularly on the study and experimentation of improvised explosive and, together with ENEA (Italian National Research Agency), it leds to the creation of a prototype which can detect explosives at distance and to detect clandestine factories of such explosives.

Finally, the Aerospace and aviation medicine department was born in 1986. It is the unique Italian department to take care of the physiological pilots training through the use of the most innovative technological equipment such as hyperbaric chambers.

EUROAVIA Napoli would like to thank the staff of the military airport Mario De Bernardi for the opportunity to visit this place and its aircrafts.

Castrese Di Guida, AS Napoli EM

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