MILAN — After an 80-year break seaplanes are expected to land this month on an artificial lake built on the outskirts of Milan in the time of Italy’s fascist dictator Benito Mussolini during the 1930s.
The seaplanes — small planes with floats to land on water — will fly in from the northern Italian lake town of Como and could herald a wider return for this kind of transportation at the Idroscalo lake behind Milan’s city airport Linate.
“We are bringing back seaplanes to the Idroscalo after 80 years. But the weather may not be ideal for Sunday. If not it will be postponed by seven days,” the Milan province president Guido Podesta said on Wednesday.
The 2.5 km Idroscalo lake was completed in 1930 and originally built for seaplanes, though currently it is used for rowing, canoe competitions and other watersports.
Seaplanes were the rage in the 1920s and early 1930s. Italy’s first airline SISA plied routes between Turin, Pavia near Milan, and Venice, cities on the river Po, and Trieste.
This month, four or five seaplanes, modern two-six seaters, will arrive from the Aero Club Como, the club president Cesare Baj said, ruling out vintage seaplane appearances because of weather and maintenance issues.
“We would like to open the Idroscalo to more frequent use but it depends on ENAC (civil aviation authority) and Linate airport,” which provides air traffic control, he said.
Next year, the province of Milan hopes to launch tourist trips from Idroscalo along the Adda valley, between the Po and Lake Como.
“It would be improper to call them commercial services. It would be more tourism,” the province’s international relations director Leonardo Kosarew said.
Small aviation companies could be interested in more commercial seaplane flights, Baj said, adding his club is non-commercial and also does flight training.
“There is an interest in seaplanes in all of Europe and the world because it only requires water (for landing and takeoff) and the planes can be used easily. There is a lot of interest at the moment,” he said.