Since 1977

Since 1977, I have written more than 300 000 kilometers of words, that is to say put end to end, one way trip from Earth to the Moon. Or a second to light for this trip. A second light words in 30 years, some 3 billion signs.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017


Italo Balbo (Ferrara, 6 June 1896 – Tobruk, 28 June 1940) was an Italian Blackshirt (Camicie Nere, or CCNN) leader who served as Italy's Marshal of the Air Force (Maresciallo dell'Aria), Governor-General of Libya, Commander-in-Chief of Italian North Africa (Africa Settentrionale Italiana, or ASI), and the "heir apparent" to Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.

After serving in World War I, Balbo became the leading Fascist organizer in his home region of Ferrara. He was one of the four principal architects (Quadrumviri del Fascismo) of the March on Rome that brought Mussolini and the Fascists to power in 1922, along with Michele Bianchi, Emilio De Bono and Cesare Maria De Vecchi. In 1926, he began the task of building the Italian Royal Air Force and took a leading role in popularizing aviation in Italy, and promoting Italian aviation to the world. In 1933, perhaps to relieve tensions surrounding him in Italy, he was given the government of Italian Libya, where he resided for the remainder of his life. Balbo was the only leading Fascist to oppose both anti-Jewish racial laws[citation needed] and Mussolini's alliance with Nazi Germany. Early in World War II, he was killed by friendly fire when his plane was shot down over Tobruk by Italian anti-aircraft guns.

The Grand Prix scene during this period contains its assortment of heroes, scoundrels and even murderers. In Italo Balbo you had all three. Balbo was born on June 6, 1896, near Ferrara, Italy. After serving in World War I he got himself involved with the local Fascists. It may well have been his sense of patriotism that mislead him but the dashing young man became one of their young leaders. He was involved in many bloody attacks against their opponents. By far the bravest of this motley group he came to the attention of the Fascist leadership including Mussolini. When Mussolini came to power Balbo quickly moved up the ladder becoming General and later Marshall. Balbo would have been just another Fascist thug if not for his other great passion, flying.

In fact Balbo was one of Italy's greatest aviators and accomplished many feats that could not be called anything less than heroic. His most famous feat came during the World's fair in Chicago in 1933. General Italo Balbo, minister of air under Italy's dictator Benito Mussolini, led a fleet of 25 Savoia-Marchetti SM.55X flying boats in a mass formation flight to Chicago's World's Fair. In an aerial spectacle aimed at demonstrating Italian technological might under fascist rule, Balbo's 100 crewmen practiced precision formation flying and water landings for months before taking off from Orbetello seaplane base for the first leg of the round-trip transatlantic flight. Despite the loss of a plane and a crewman in Amsterdam, 24 aircraft landed safely on Lake Michigan, having flown 6,065 miles in just under 49 hours flying time. Following celebrations in Chicago and New York, the fleet took off for Rome on July 25. A crash in the Azores took the life of a second crewman, but Balbo's remaining 23 flying boats arrived home to a patriotic welcome on August 12, still flying in tight formation. Balbo's popularity rivaled Mussolini's and as a reward he was banished to Libya as its Governor.

Disillusioned with the direction that Mussolini was taking Italy he resented the growing power of the German Nazi's over his beloved Italy. Exiled to Libya he assumed the role of Roman pro-consul; the greatness of the empire depended on the prestige the Consul could command. He held lavish receptions replete with African Guards in flowing costumes with drawn swords. The receptions were open to the diplomatic corps of North Africa and international high society. He preferred to mix with the creme of Britain and France over that of Germany. A perfect vehicle for him, in fact his world stage was the Grand Prix of Tripoli. He loved cars and would often cajole the teams to let him try their cars out on the circuit.

On August 13th, 1932 Victor Emmanuel III, King of Italy authorized a lottery based on the result of the Tripoli Grand Prix. The effect was enormous, the race was converted from a backwater event to the top of the Grand Prix calendar. It became known as the race of millions, it also saw it involved in a scandal that rocked the sport when Varzi won the first race during the lottery under dubious circumstances over Nuvolari. The following year Balbo created new rules to prevent any chance of further cheating.

Reality was to intrude on this idyllic setting when Italy entered the war on the side of Germany. Balbo had been against the war from the start. On June 28, 1940 Governor-General Marshal Italo Balbo was shot down and killed by his own AA guns over Tobruk just as an RAF raid materialized (could this have been coincidence? Or is it possible that this was deliberate as Mussolini considered him to be his only serious contender in the fascist "government".) Considering Hitler's betrayal of his former comrade Ernst Rölm of the SA this scenario is not an uncommon feature of Fascism.

Balbo appeared in military uniform at the Targa Florio road race.

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