They are the twenty-three pilots of the Italian Air Force High Speed Unit,
heroes that broke the speed record for propeller seaplanes. After Italy's defeat
in Venice in 1927 against the English in the Coppa Schneider, the most prestigious
air speed race in the world, the idea of creating a specialised unit emerged.
This resulted in the creation of the High Speed School in 1928 by will of Italo Balbo
and lieutenant colonel Mario Bernasconi.
Bernasconi is a pilot engineer, pragmatic and with strong organisational skills.
He chose Desenzano on Lake Garda as laboratory for the future racers: the calm waters
and little watercraft traffic made it the ideal place.
In April 1928, commander Bernasconi, piloting an M 52, officially opened the First
Racer Course in which captain Giuseppe Motta, captain Alberto Canaveri, lieutenant
Giovanni Monti, lieutenant Remo Cadringher, lieutenant Giuseppe Maggi, marshal
Tommaso Dal Molin and sergeant-major Francesco Agello participated.
In order to be decorated with the Racer pilot badge (an eagle with the red letter V in the centre), a student must exceed 500 km/h on a course marked out with pylons, as well as carry out an extremely difficult manoeuvre: the "Desenzano" turn.
It is essential to know how to fly it with precision, as it requires inverting the flying
direction around the circuit pylons while maintaining the same speed of around 500 km/h.
In 1931, after the last edition of the Coppa Schneider, the Italian Air Ministry decided
to change the High Speed School and transform it into an Experimental High Speed Unit.
Colonel Bernasconi stayed in command with the mandate to focus exclusively on speed in
order to achieve the prime goal: snatch the record away from the English.
In 1934 Francesco Agello achieved this goal setting a speed record of 709.209 km/h.