You are Piaggio’s first unmanned air vehicle and you need to get from one flight test facility in Sardinia to another in Sicily, both islands and separated by 300nm of Mediterranean. Trouble is, you are not yet authorised to fly. You could catch a barge or be dismantled and go by shipping container. But much more glamorous – and quick – if you hitch a ride (literally) underneath an Italian army Chinook and an Italian air force helicopter carrier.
The Italian airframer enlisted the help of the two services earlier this month to get its proof-of-concept UAV, an early version of the P.1HH Hammerhead, a model of which it unveiled at the Paris air show this year, from one air base to another. The Italian air force is helping Piaggio test the programme – the Genoa company is aiming for certification by next year – and such is the interest in the aircraft from the country’s ministry of defence that the two other services were enlisted to help with its transport.
Piaggio is quick to stress, however, that the company paid for the ride. Although the armed forces are cooperating with the testing of the P.1HH, the manufacturer has received no subsidy or launch funding from Rome.
You can read the full story in our Italian special in 5 November, but, in the meantime, here are the stunning pictures of the Avanti’s “flight”.