Plane against the Pirellone, nineteen years ago the tragedy in the sky of Milan

Milan – It was the April 18, 2002, exactly nineteen years ago, when a small private plane crashed into the Pirellone, headquarters of the Lombardy Region, in the spring sky of Milan. Indelible images seen live or on television, less than a year after the disaster of the Twin Towers in New York. Impossible at first not to think, by instinct, of a terrorist raid. Later the investigators clarified the dynamics of that tragedy, due to inexperience, which cost the lives of three people: Luigi Fasulo, the pilot of the touring aircraft, and the lawyers Annamaria Rapetti e Alessandra Santonocito, employees of the Lombardy Region, innocent victims remembered today by the governor Attilio Fontana with a post on Facebook: “To them goes the memory and a prayer of the whole Regionand more generally of the Lombards. “They had the misfortune to find themselves working on the 26th floor of the skyscraper on which the airplane hit, causing the injury of sixty people in addition to the three deaths.

The cursed flight

The Swiss Luigi Fasulo, a pilot originally from Campania born in 1935, took off from Locarno airport with the single-engined Rockwell Commander 112TC at 5.15 pm. The flight plan included landing at Linate to get fuel and then returning to Switzerland with landing in Lugano at 6.15pm. For about twenty minutes, communications with the control towers show that the flight is proceeding smoothly. Around 5.30 pm the problems begin at the gates of Linate.

Communications are confused and, in the answers he offers to Linate controllers, Fasulo reveals his inexperience in gliding in an airport like that of Milan with complex and articulated procedures. The pilot actually misses the landing strip and the controllers call him to order until he communicates that he cannot open the landing gear. At that point Fasulo probably panics, puts on autopilot and tries to fix the fault. The plane comes out of the radar, then it is seen by the control tower as it seems to take the right direction for the ring indicated for the landing but the aircraft passes further by breaking towards the Central Station and the Pirellone, with the pilot now confused and perhaps dazzled by the sun. Before losing altitude, the Commander’s landing gear is first extracted and then retracted, perhaps with the intention of going back without landing. Then in front of the Pirelli skyscraper a last attempt to turn, then the crash at 5.45 pm, the screams, panic, blood and death. Having discarded the initial hypotheses of suicide and terrorist act, the investigations, technical reports and testimonies decreed that the accident was caused by the pilot’s inability to manage a complex landing in the presence of technical difficulties

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