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The Piaggio P.166 was developed as a follow on from the P.136 floatplane retaining the wings and engines of the original aircraft but mating them with a new fuselage designed for land operations. The original P.166 could carry eight passengers and was eventually re-engined with turboprops as the P.166D. The type was most successful in Australia where a variety of regional and bush airlines ordered the type. In military service, the P.166 was flown by Italy, Somalia and South Africa. The latter called it the Albatross. A larger 12-seat version was also developed and this was designated as the P.166C.
In Italian Air Force service, the P.166 was primarily used as a utility and liaison aircraft however a few aircraft were configured for photographic survey flights. The type was also flown by the Italian Coast Guard and Guardia di Finanza services. The final P.166s were retired from service by the Guardia di Finanza on 1st March 2022, the same date marked the 68th anniversary of the founding of the Guardia di Finanza's air service.
The example appearing on static display as part of our celebration of the Italian Air Force centenary is the last flying P.166 in Italy. Originally built as a ten-seat P.166B, the airframe was converted by Piaggio into the P.166C prototype. In 2002 two Italian Air Force officers began to restore the airframe and it flew again for the first time in 2011.
Photo Credit: Gian-Marco-Anzellotti