Count Aldo Barbaro's 220hp Ansaldo Airplane

Count Aldo Barbaro's 220hp Ansaldo Airplane

Count Aldo Barbaro

Count Aldo Barbaro, Patrician of Venice was an early 20th-century aviator from Italy. He achieved aeronautical records with South American flights during the 1920's to Lake Titicaca in Peru and La Paz in Bolivia. He was the first aviator within South America to reach 4000 m. with a flight from Arequipa to Oruro.

Aldo Barbaro was born on March 15, 1892 in Rome of the noble Venetian Barbaro family. His maternal lineage, of the aristocratic Venetian Cornaro family, produced Queen Caterina Cornaro, the wife of King James II of Cyprus. Consequently, Aldo was also addressed as "Barbaro-Cornaro". Count Barbaro studied mechanical engineering with a specialization in aviation, and he worked closely with engineer Giuseppe Brezzi on the development of the Ansaldo A.1 aircraft, Italy's first domestically produced fighter plane of World War I. During the war, Barbaro was a flight instructor and volunteer aviator who demonstrated great skill in battle.

After Word War I, Count Aldo Barbaro accepted an offer by the government of Peru to serve as the director of the Peruvian Military Aviation School, an academy with more than 200 cadets. While in Peru, he organized a flight in 1923 from the foot of Illimani, at the plateau of Arequipa, to La Paz and from La Paz to Oruro. The flight's expenses were fully funded by the Count, and he used a 220hp aircraft by Gio. Ansaldo & Co. for the journey.

In March of 1923, the first stage of the flight was completed with great success. He was welcomed with over 1000 onlookers from the city of La Paz. For the second stage of the flight, completing in the summer of 1923, a celebration was organized for his arrival at Oruro. Pedro Sambarino, an accomplished cinematographer of Argentina and Peru, was asked to film the Count's landing.

While trying to descend in completion of his flight on July 21, 1923, Count Aldo Barbaro's plane malfunctioned at 80 ft. Soon after, it plummeted, and the Count was killed instantly. The Count's final flight was captured on film while at 300ft. The footage was later used for the 1926 short titled La Caida del Aviador Conrado (The Fall of Aviator Conrad). Count Aldo Barbaro's name is immortalized by the street "Via Aldo Barbaro" on the hilltop town of Catanzaro, Italy, a baronial holding of the Barbaro family's noble Albergo.

Aviator Count Aldo Barbaro was a hero to the Bolivians. His passing was honored in the 1923 publication La Reforma. The strength and vigor of Aldo Barbaro was expressed with great sentiment by the Bolivian peoples. His aviation achievements were regarded as a glorification of South America.