Vittorio Centurione Scotto

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Vittorio Centurione Scotto ( Genoa , 7 May 1900 - Lake Varese , 21 September 1926) was an Italian aviator and military man . Pilot captain of the seaplane specialty, he participated in the First World War. After conquering the altitude world record for seaplanes he was selected to participate in the 1926 Schneider Cup edition, but perished in a flight accident on September 21 of the same year.

He was born in Genoa on May 7, 1900 , son of the Marquis and deputy Carlo Centurione Scotto (1877-1958), a lover of all art forms and a great horse enthusiast. As a boy he became passionate about aviation , and once he left the Naval Academy of Livorno with the rank of ensign engineer, he immediately applied to be admitted to the pilot school. After obtaining the seaplane pilot license he took part in the war operations in force first at the 264th Squadron stationed in Ancona, and then at the 263rd Squadron based in Porto Corsini , flying equipped with FBA Type seaplanes H and Macchi M.8. For his actions during the conflict he was decorated with a war cross for military valour. After the war he became captain, and assumed command of the 187th Squadron based on Muggiano (La Spezia). During his activity at the 187th Squadron he had the opportunity to teach Stefano Cagna to fly, general future and Gold Medal for military valor . He also got to know and make friends with Italo Balbo, during a state flight to Libya.

At the age of twenty-four he met the writer Liala, with whom he fell madly in love. Their love was strongly opposed by his family, who considered the writer unsuitable for him. After breaking the world altitude record for seaplanes he was selected by Mussolini himself to participate in the Schneider Cup for seaplane speed which was to be held in Norfolk, Virginia in 1926. After the selection ended, the Italian team was made up of him, Major Mario de Bernardi , Captain Arturo Ferrarin, Lieutenant Adriano Bacula and Captain Guascone Guasconi . Since the aircraft chosen for the race, the new Macchi M.39 monoplane racing seaplanes, specially designed by the engineer Mario Castoldi, had not yet left the plants, the training was carried out by flying on board other aircraft starting from 18 July on the Schiranna seaplane base .

The team's designated commander was Major de Bernardi, a brave WWI pilot. Between these and the other drivers of the team, however, it seems there was not too much harmony and he himself did not feel comfortable with de Bernardi who was used to other systems. On September 21, 1926, during a training session, Major de Bernardi said something to him, and he immediately took off on board his hydrocorsa, starting to circulate on the waters of Lake Varese . At 5:20 pm the plane suddenly entered the screw and in a moment it disappeared, with its pilot, into the waters of the lake. That year, the edition of the Schneider cup was won by de Bernardi.

His parents, desperate, never wanted to resign themselves to the premature death of his son and tried to contact him through spirit sessions in the family castle in Millesimo.

Liala has intensely remembered it in the pages of her novels Signorsì, Shadows of flowers on my way, Voices from my past, and Dag Vagabondo.  Even the city of Varese honoured him by naming it a street.  In June 2003 the fifth edition of the small Schneider Cup was held on Lake Varese.

Historical photographic books have been published on Vittorio Centurione Scotto and the noble family Centurione Scotto and Cattaneo Di Belforte, with careers and genealogy, in which Liala is proved with evidence, because it appears that she used the figure of the heroic and noble aviator for literary scoop, going only after the Second World War to Millesimo to draw news, and only after the end of his twenty-year history with the aviator Pietro Sordi, true inspirer of his romance novels.

•  The above was translated from Italian.  Help to improve it would be welcomed.
•  Scotto is said to be descended from the Douglas-Scotti family.  The Centurione Scotto branch originated from Lodisio son of Barnaba Scotto and Isabella Centurione (probably from the Becchignone branch) who in 1453 entered the hotel (? Italian: non come famiglia ma come Albergo). This Lodisio is important because, very devoted to the rule of S. Francesco di Paola, he introduced its order to Genoa, but more because he had a commercial company in Lisbon of which Christopher Columbus was an agent in Madeira, who with him regulated some slopes also in the will of 1505. His descendants had important positions and vast dominions; a L uigi (1597-1659) acquired the possession of Campi in Val Trebbia from the Marquis Malaspina with the marquis title; Carlo, his second son, had by the emperor Ferdinand, in 1654, with the right to coin money, the title of Palatine count and prince of the Holy Roman Empire, which the descendants still carry.
However, deborah Foulkes writes:  I have met descendants of both surviving lines including the Fombio Scotti Douglas and the Agazzano Douglas Scotti. Both families are quick to remind us that Scotto and Scotti were terms referencing a nationality and did not always indicate a surname. People of Celtic heritage from Ireland and Scotland were frequently called Scotto or Scotti in Italy. Perhaps Pedro Scotto was the son of Scottish parents and maybe he was a descendant of Guillelmo de Duglas of the 8th century.

See also:
•  The Douglas family in Italy portal



Sources for this article include:
  • Simona Bellone, A great love with wings - Vittorio Centurione Scotto -capitano Regia Aeronautica- The forgotten hero

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    Last modified: Monday, 25 March 2024