Although Italo Balbo (1896-1940) became Italy's Air Minister knowing nothing about
aviation, he then trained as a pilot and became Italy's most famous flyer.
The 1933 Air Armada celebrated the tenth anniversary of the Italian air force,
the Regia Aeronautica, when - led by Balbo - a formation of 24 Savoia-Marchetti SM.55X
flying-boats made a transatlantic round-trip flight from Italy to Chicago, stopping
off at various refuelling points and landing on Lake Michigan for the Chicago World Fair.
It was the first Atlantic crossing by a formation of aircraft - in this case unusual double-hulled
monoplanes that had one engine facing forwards, and another facing backwards.
Oddly, the mission's military significance seems to have had little impact on the American public.