26 June 2019 Diletta Mannelli

The XXXI National Conference on Aeronautical and Space Medicine, organized by the Italian Association of Aeronautical and Space Medicine (AIMAS), took place in Vicenza from 19 to 21 June.

The conference, in addition to specific sessions for aero-medical examiners (AME), proposed a series of scientific communications on some major issues in aeronautical and operational clinical medicine, such as human factor and flight safety, space and physiology in extraordinary environments, forensic medicine and aeronautical work, proposal of guidelines for management in-flight diabetes.

The event was opened by a lectio magistralis by Dr. Sergio Alessandrini, a member of the Operational Committee of GREAL. Alessandrini is a forensic doctor and an expert on the history of Arctic exploration.


Dr. Sergio Alessandrini

The speech was on “The airship ITALIA expedition and the Red Tent – collective memory and historical“. Year 2019 marks the 91th anniversary of  such expedition, conducted in 1928 and directed by Gen. Umberto Nobile, of the Royal Italian Air Force.

The expedition followed the successful first transpolar flight performed by airship NORGE in 1926, and was intended as a full blown geographic exploration mission in the Arctic.

The ITALIA made three flights in the polar region and reached the North Pole on May 25th, 1928; however, it sadly crashed on the pack during its flight back towards homebase at Svalbard.

In the aftermath of the disaster, harsh controversies arose. Such polemics shook the prestige of involved Italian institutions and pushed the value of the whole expedition aside. On the long run, this marginalized the value of the ITALIA’s endeavor in both Italian and European collective memories, putting it, de facto, in oblivion.

The focus of Dr. Alessandrini’s speech was on current historical research which aims to highlight new evidence, emerging from archival data and primary sources. Such perspective, along with a new and more comprehensive reading of the traditional sources on the topic may contribute to a more effective understanding of the events and their historical dimension. It can also contribute to the memory of an expedition which consolidated, about a century ago already, Italy’s role as a major scientific and technical actor in the development of human presence and activity in the Arctic.  

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