Where to begin ?!
My Email post box contained the invitation with detailed information about an Italian contest. Another mail from a Swiss friend simply stated “ I’ve booked a room at Alessandria”. In my mind some almost faded pictures of happy days in the South became clear again. I just couldn’t resist.
Alessandria is a town in Northern Italy, some 100 Kilometers South of Milano. The street atlas software says it’s 5 ½ hours from my home. We all know these route planners are based on traffic conditions of decades long gone. Even with most of the route being on Autobahn my guess was to be at least 7 hours. Not a short weekend trip.
On the other hand Italian contests are well known for their relaxed atmosphere, easy going procedures ( to say the least ), and a hearty welcome to competitors, especially foreign flyers. Not to mention Italian climate, mentality, and cuisine. So I decided to cut the long distance into two halves and make it a two day tour. The first half was spent to cross the “Alpen”. The first destination was Lago Maggiore; one of the famous lakes in Northern Italy and IMHO one of the most beautiful places in the world. Just by chance in a tiny village I found a small hotel, simple but nice, with lake view, modest price, and already with that Mediterranian atmosphere we Central and North Europeans like so much. From there it was only another three hours to Alessandria.

     
Cerro on Lago Maggiore
view from dining terrace
The flying site is a “God’s gift” for the Alessandria model club. Sometimes governments have grandiose ideas, and sometimes they run out of money to realize those great plans. An asphalt area had been laid down for a highway service station, but this was not to be. The area is big enough for one big aerobatic circle, one team race/ speed circle, and an RC race car track ( governments should make ambitious but unrealistic plans more often ).
Being at the place very early I immediately explored the surrounding area to look for restaurants which might fulfil our elevated demands. Beautifully embedded in this rolling hill area, and pretty close to the flying site, the “Olympia” seemed to offer what we were looking for and indeed - the supper that same evening removed all possible doubts about this extraordinary location. There was no need to study the unexplainable Italian menue card - the chief himself recommended what he thought appropriate for us and we just followed his advice. A noble way of serving guests, and one we really didn’t regret.
     
             
Restaurant Olympia
Olympia garden
There are contests where you just HAVE to take part because you need to collect those points required for these all important eliminations. There are contests which you want to visit because of the strong, intense, and interesting competition which may clearly show up your competence and ranking within our control line world. And there are contests which will allow you to fully enjoy the essence of our doings. In our case: to LIVE CONTROL LINE AEROBATICS ! This life begins when you are overwhelmingly greeted by the Italian flyers which makes you feel totally welcome within their ranks and like coming home after a long absence. This continues when you try to overcome the registration hurdles; even if you forgot pre entry, and especially considering the fact that you don’t know a single word of the Italian language, perhaps except for pizza and vino. You’ll experience a most helpful assistance everytime a tiny problem might arise, and within a minute an excited group of wildly gesticulating helpers will be around you, neglecting all other tasks, trying to solve your problem ( I know - I needed this help ). Last but not least - on parting that hearty “thank you so much for coming” which makes you feel having been there for some precious hours, is the real evidence that you have met true friends, and will cause you to make plans for another Alessandria event next time.
     
Swiss flyers + one German
Equipe de France: Perret, Ougen, Surugue
 
Old Master Luciano Compostella
 
makes all this possible: Aldo Cantelli
The whole contest ran very smoothly and efficiently ( even more than we had anticipated ). The main reason for this must be the generous sponsor of this event, Signore Aldo Cantelli. As a true friend of control line he strongly supports this event, even serving in several duties during the contest. The absolute highlight of the affair was the free banquet ( included in an already modest entry fee !!! ) on Saturday evening in a first class hotel. A delicious supper provided everything you would expect from high level Italian cuisine ( and of course we didn’t expect anything less ). At the closing ceremony everybody received a valuable participation document, a souvenir medal, and two bottles of wine from this area ( when this photo was shot only one bottle was left ).
       
For me and my friends a stunt contest is not just a means of fighting for points and placings. The whole package should allow to enjoy some great moments in the company of good friends, and this doesn’t mean the time on the circle only. These three days at Alessandria were much more than a good contest. We were tempted to establish something like a rating system to classify the grade of contest level. Something like the “Guide Michelin” does for the restaurant sphere by rewarding “stars”. Guide Michelin was yesterday. The appropriate competence will be the newly created “Guide de Vol Circulaire” ( = Control Line Guide for you English types ). Tested by these criteria the Citta Di Alessandria Contest will clearly rate
FIVE out of five HANDLES.