Ivo Nutarelli

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5Person.png Ivo Nutarelli  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Ivo Nutarelli.jpg
Born23 March, 1950
Palermo, Italy
Died28 August, 1988 (Age 38)
Ramstein, Germany
Cause of death
air crash
Victim ofpremature death
Interests • Itavia Flight 870
• Flugtag 88
Italian Air Force pilot witnessing or participating in the events around the shoot down of flight Itavia Flight 870 in 1980. Died in deadly acrobatic show accident in 1988.

Ivo Nutarelli was a pilot and officer in the Italian Air Force. He was repeatedly mentioned as a witness or participant in the events around the shoot down of Itavia Flight 870, killing all 81 on board.

He died during one of the most serious accidents in the history of acrobatic aerial displays in 1988, during Flugtag 88, where Nutarelli was held responsible for the maneuvering error which cost the lives, as well as himself to the two colleagues, of 67 spectators on the ground.

Due to the high level of damage to the aircraft involved, it has never been possible to establish with certainty whether the error during the show was due to human factors or to technical and mechanical anomalies.


Nutarelli entered the Air Force as a reserve officer pilot in 1970 and obtained his pilot's license in August 1971[1].

An extremely capable pilot, endowed with a strong personality, tenacious and determined, he became an instructor pilot on F-104 after a short time. He was able to train the fighter pilots of the Air Force until, on December 27, 1980, he joined the aerobatic team of the Frecce Tricolori, the Air Force's show unit.

The accident

The acrobatic team Frecce Tricolori

He died on Sunday 28 August 1988, during an air show (Flugtag 88 in Ramstein, Germany, together with two of his colleagues[2].

On the day of the disaster, a series of errors in the execution of the first figure led to a fatal collision with the other aircraft.

Despite the debate about the incident and the clamor aroused by the tragedy, Nutarelli was held responsible for the maneuvering error which cost the lives, as well as himself to the two colleagues, of 67 spectators on the ground.

Due to the high level of damage to the aircraft involved, it has never been possible to investigate a posteriori and therefore establish with certainty whether the error was due to human factors or to technical and mechanical anomalies, or in what percentage of each.

The Ramstein collision remains one of the most serious events in the history of acrobatic aerial displays in terms of the number of casualties. However, it must be affirmed that this involvement of people was determined not so much by the collision itself, but by the fact that the NATO rules that until then had regulated the aerobatic demonstrations, allowed the public too close to the aircraft demonstration ,and wit the execution of some maneuvers not parallel to the "display line" but perpendicular to it and therefore with the aircraft directed, in line of flight, towards the public.

After Ramstein, regulations have changed every rule of aerobatic events, where the safety distances of the flight area are designed so as not to directly affect the areas occupied by spectators.[3]

Connections with the shoot down of Itavia Flight 870

Itavia 870.png

Ivo Nutarelli has been repeatedly associated with the events of June 27, 1980, the day of the shoot down of Itavia Flight 870 from Bologna to Palermo, killing all 81 on board.

At that time, he and his colleague Naldini worked as flight instructors on Lockheed TF104G the 4th Squadron of air base Grosseto. In particular, a simulated attack mission was scheduled for the evening of June 27 near the Verona-Villafranca airport, alongside an aircraft of the same model in single-seat mode, guided by a student pilot.

During the return journey, at 8:24 pm, the two-seater with Naldini and Nutarelli on board was near the DC-9 Itavia which had just departed from Bologna. This happened over the Tyrrhenian Sea not far from the coast, near Florence-Peretola. A general alarm signal to the Air Defense (code 73 or code 7300, ie general emergency ) was 'squocked' on the transponder of the instructors' aircraft (ie selected and sent as a pulse).[4][5]

In the radar recording of the military checkpoint of Poggio Ballone it was found that:

 "SOS-SIF[6] is [...] set to 2, or confirmed emergency, and the blink[7] is set to 1, ie activation of the warning alert on operator consoles[8]"

According to the reports, therefore, Naldini and Nutarelli reported an aviation safety problem and the controllers had full confirmation of the dangerous situation.

The meanings of these codes, denied or diminished of importance by experts of the Air Force, were instead confirmed as important by the NATO ad hoc Commission, by experts from the NATO Programming Center.

In fact, they wrote in their report [9] of 10 March 1997 (times expressed in GMT ):

 “A confirmed state of emergency has been declared several times on the LL464/LG403 track on the basis of the SIF1 code 73, which at the time of the disaster was used as an indication of emergency. The track crossed the DC-9 flight path at 6:26 pm, and was last recorded near the Grosseto air base at 6:39 pm"

The plane repeated the alert procedure three times in two minutes, unambiguously confirming the emergency. Neither the Air Force nor NATO ever clarified the reasons for that alarm.

The former Gladio-member Antonino Arconte also attributed to Nutarelli and Naldini the shooting down of the Libyan Mig-23 that crashed in the mountains of Sila at the time of the Itavia crash.[10]

According to the investigation of Judge Rosario Priore, who for years investigated the incident, Naldini and Nutarelli were certainly aware of some facts relating to the events, but in the years that followed they never gave any signs of telling, except for a few jokes in private circles. Nonetheless, this qualified them as privileged - and certainly inconvenient - witnesses[11]. In particular, they were potential witnesses of the emergence, as it later emerged from the documents of the Priore investigation, of a fighter in the radar shadow of the civilian aircraft, which in all probability took place over the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines.

It is known that Nutarelli and Naldini were supposed to, a few days after their convenient death, to have been questioned by Vittorio Bucarelli, at the time, investigating judge of the Itavia investigation. [12]

The Flugtag 88 commission concluded that the Ramstein accident was not related to the crash of the Itavia DC-9, since the relationship between the effect (the death of the two witnesses Nutarelli and Naldini) and collateral effects (death of many spectators) would have been decidedly disproportionate and inconvenient.[1]

Despite these conclusions, Nutarelli's family did not give up, and collected a large amount of documents, deeds, appraisals and testimonies that would exonerate the pilot from any responsibility on the accident of the Flugtag 88.


Event Witnessed

Itavia Flight 870Tyrrhenian Sea
Near Ustica
Suspicious plane crash that was the subject of complex legal action.


5star.png 11 November 2021 Terje