Il Volo Su Zerzura
In Volo Su Zerzura
In Volo Su Zerzura

Roberto Chiarvetto, Alessandro Menardi Noguera, Michele Soffiantini: In Volo Su Zerzura

Softcover: 395 pages
Publisher: Difesa Servizi S.p.A. – Edizione Rivista Aeronautica
Language: Italian
ISBN 97 888881 80199
Product Dimensions:21 × 26 × 2,5 cm

1932. Zerzura Oasis “fever” hits the greatest European desert explorers: Britons Ralph Alger Bagnold, Patrick Andrew Clayton and Sir Robert Clayton-East-Clayton, as well as Hungarian László Ede Almásy. Painstakingly described in the highly esteemed Geographical Journal, magazine of the Royal Geographical Society, their expeditions search the sands of the Libyan Sahara in a quest for the mythical lost oasis of Zerzura, down as far South as the Gilf Kebir plateau which had been discovered only a few years before, in one of the “blank areas” on maps of North Africa. Their passion for unexplored lands, discovery of unknown places, finding of prehistoric traces and making of tracks to be travelled by car where not even camels are able to venture, marks the beginning of a Saharan exploration age that still lingers on. The purely topographical and scientific intent was unavoidably intertwined with strategic and military aims, all tied to the need to establish national boundaries, still to be defined with the new Italian colony of Libya. The exploits of those adventurers and their publications are well known to all desert scholars, especially in the English-speaking world that gave birth to most of them, and to the public at large through the “English Patient” novel and film that drew inspiration precisely from those events.
However, now faded into oblivion, a few Italian characters played a very important role in the quest. They were not explorers in the usual meaning of the word though, unlike their British counterparts, or like the well-known Italian Ardito Desio. They were Officers and soldiers with great experience in the Colony, mainly from the Air Force but also from the Army. These men, defying the dangers of travelling by air and land in areas where no man had gone before, with next-to-nil chances of being rescued in case of need, followed their orders to undertake secret missions for the colonial Administration, to keep an eye on the British explorers and to gain their own knowledge of the region. The discovery of a new oasis with rich water sources, as described by the old Zerzura legends, would have had strategic importance for the Italian outposts surrounded by the southern desert of Libya, so much so that the highest-ranking Officers in the area personally took part in the expeditions – the Commander of the Aviazione della Cirenaica and the Commander of the Kufra Military Zone.
In November 1932 an Italian expedition undertook a most secret aerial and ground reconnaissance of the northern area of the Gilf Kebir, just months after the first and only flight by Sir Robert Clayton-East-Clayton, making a detailed topographical and photographical survey that survives to this day. This expedition was the absolute first to reach the area overland from Kufra. This is the story of that secret mission, of the men that undertook it, of the correspondence between the Ministries and the colonial units that prepared it in the utmost detail to make it possible. This is the story of outstanding missions to set up the outposts at Uweinat and Sarra, and the flights over the Tibesti and Ennedi mountains that lead up to it, and of the second flight over the Gilf Kebir that took place in 1933 to spy on a British expedition. Two years of unequalled missions, undertaken by extraordinary men using the best tools of the time: the dependable Romeo Ro. 1 aircraft, new Fiat 611 6×4 lorries, Fiat 514 cars and O.M.I. cameras.
It is the story of what survives today, from the memories, photographs and mementoes kept by the families of the pilots and observers, through the archive papers tracked down by very careful research over many years, to the aircraft wreck that still lies in the Libyan Desert, after flying for the last of those secret missions.

More information and order here: In Volo Su Zerzura

I do actually not remember since when I am in contact with Roberto but our correspondence increased a lot when we started to work on our common project “Incident at Jebel Sherif” in the late days of 2006 (together with Brendan O’Carroll).
Roberto has published several articles in Italian magazines. The subjects were the Compagnia Autosahariana di Cufra, Caproni Ca.309 “Ghibli”and the Imam Ro1.
Roberto is currently working on a new book-project with Andreas Biermann and me.

Chiarvetto, Roberto
2012 / 02 A new article by Roberto
Roberto's Website
Roberto's Website

Finally. Roberto has managed to set up his own website…have a look.

www.robertochiarvetto.it