Italy was the first nation to deploy airplanes as
a weapon of war (1911).
The first complete flight over the Artic Ocean (1926)
was achieved in an Italian airship.
The first foreign aircraft to fly to the United
States (1927, two months before Lindbergh famed crossing) was a Savoia-Marchetti
S-55, appropriately christened the Santa Maria. And like Columbus,
its captain was an Italian.
By 1933, when less than thirty ocean crossings had
succesfully completed, Italy shocked the world by flying an entire 24 plane
squadron to the world's fair in Chicago.
The first Italian jet plane was contracted in 1934,
to be built by 1936 but modified in 1939 and flown for the first time in
1940, one year after Germany's similar attempt. The first American
jet was built in 1943 from a British design.
So thoroughly did Italians pursue a leadership role
in aeronautical technology that Italian aircraft held unbroken world records
in areas of speed and altitude for half a century.