AKA Umberto Cagno,
Alessandro Cagno
Photo courtesy of Tony Booker, 5-15-04

via email from Tony Booker, 5-15-04
     Alessandro Cagno began to race at the age of eighteen, placing second on the Belgian circuit of Ardennes in 1902. He won the climb race of Susa - Mont Cenis in 1904. He finished in third position at the hillclimb at Mont Ventoux in 1905 driving in the Gordon Bennett race. In 1906 he took part at the first edition of the Targa Florio winning the race while driving a Fab Auto Itala SA.
     Cagno was also a flying enthusiast, and he designed and tested aircraft, founding Italy's first flying school in Pordenone. He volunteered to fight in the war in Libya, and built the first bomber aircraft.
Alessandro Cagno
1908 ITALA
Photo courtesy of Tony Booker, 5-16-04
       Built for the 1908 Grand Prix that was held in France on the Dieppe circuit, the race was 10 laps and over 480 miles. The car was driven by Cagno and finished Ilth out of 47 starters. (Sam always maintained that one of the reasons the car survived was because of its low finish.) The Itala also competed in the USA in 1908.
     The car is still very active in the UK. It was (& is) frighteningly fast - it lapped Brooklands at over 100 mph in the thirties. They were brave men !
     In 1912, Cagno returned to Fiat as Chief Tester of racing cars and General motor vehicle Tester. During the war he ran the General Testing Office for the Italian and French armies. After the war he returned to racing and concluded his career in 1923, leading the Fiat team to victory in the Leningrad-Tiblisi-Moscow race. He then continued to collaborate with Fiat as a test driver and dealer.

Alessandro Cagno
Cagno, Cobianchi and Cei - Pordenone 1910

     If you search for "Cagno +aviation using the Google search engine, (8-31-03), you will find about 89 links. I could only find two which were of much interest.
     This webpage on the Fiat Group website offers the most helpful biography I found on the internet. It treats primarily of his activites as a test driver for Fiat, but does include one paragraph which describes his activities in aviation.
     Although there is only a brief reference to the activities of Locatelli, this article is important to anyone wanting to understand the development of aviation in Italy. The following paragraph was extracted from the article so as to highlight the many pioneer aviators who played a part in its history. It is amply illustrated with seven photographs. I think you will want to read the whole article which details the history from 1909 to 2002.
     "The beginning of the flying activity in Ghedi was in 1909 when in the moor on the border with Montichiari was organized an airshow of international importance which saw the participation of airmen such as Wright, Calderara, Cobianchi, Cagno, Rougier, Curtiss, Moucher, Lebland, Anzani and Blériot, who won the "Brescia Grand Prize" flying 50 Km. in 49.24" with a biplane aircraft, while Curtiss won the height race reaching 92 metres. Among the spectators were numbered the Princess Letizia Savoy Bonaparte, Franz Kafka, who acted as foreign correspondent for a newspaper, and Gabriele d'Annunzio, who flew as passenger on Wright's airplane and that would later make of aviation one of his greatest passions (very famous remained his "Flight over Vienna")." To access the site, just click on the title above.

via email from Don Fiore - 9-1-03
     In addition to Ghedi, other very early but important Italian airfields included Centocelle (Rome) where Wilbur Wright gave his first Italian demonstration), Gioa De Colle, & Aviano (still used today by the United States).

     Mario Cobianchi wrote this very interesting book in the year 1943 and he died in the 1944. The book isn't for sale and in Italy there are only 11 copies in the libraries. It is the source of the information on other Italian pioneers which I have sent to you including Giuseppe Cei, Pasqua marquis Ugolino Vivaldi, Mario Calderara and Adorno Enrico Cammarota
     His book is very interesting in that there are the names of italian aviation motors from 1884 to 1913 and the names of the italian pioneers killed from 1909 to 1914.
Photo & text courtesy of Giovanni Giorgetti, 10-10-04

       In "The History of Italian Aviation" (Storia dell'Aeronautica Italiana) of Rosario Abate - Editor Bietti, the exact full nome of Cagno is Cagno Alessandro Umberto.He is in your site with the name Alessandro Cagno and in my list with the nome Umberto Cagno but he is the same person.  

Alessandro Cagno was born in Turin on May 2, 1883. He died on December 23, 1971.
Personal communication from Peter Higham, 6-14-05
Editor's Note:
If you have any more information on this pioneer aviator
please contact me.
E-mail to Ralph Cooper

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