Mario Calderara was born in Verona on October 10th, 1879, the elder son of an army officer, Marco, and Eleonora Tantini. Marco Calderara (1848-1928) reached the rank of general of the "Alpini" corps. Eleonora Tantini died at the age of fifty,when Mario was 21 year old.
     Since his early childhood Mario was attracted by life at sea. In 1898 he entered the Naval Academy in Livorno, and graduated as a midshipman in 1901. During his Livorno years he was known by his classmates for always dreaming about human flight, something which was totally unknown in those days, except for the successful gliding flights of Otto Lilienthal (who fell to his death in 1896) and the aborted powered flight of Clement Ader in France. Mario's classmates were joking about his flying mania, and one of them made a sketch of Calderara on a flying machine, crashing to the ground and being carried to a hospital, and then to a cemetery.
     In 1905, Mario Calderara wrote to the Wright brothers in Dayton Ohio, after hearing about their successful attempts at flying (a documented record of their flights was known only after 1905). He asked them about technical details and was pleasantly surprised when he received a satisfactory answer from Wilbur and Orville, as well as from F.C. Bishop, president of Aeroclub of the United States. This correspondence continued during the following years and formed the basis of a friendship which lasted throughout his entire life. Calderara had already made some experiments in 1903 and 1904 with primitive gliders, and had studied the behavior of a flat surface on an incline calculating its coefficient of resistance to the wind (together with the Italian engineer Canovetti, he utilized the funicular from Como to Brunate as a slope for making his calculations).
Mario Calderara
Editor's Note:
These paragraphs and the photograph have been copied directly from the Calderara website thanks to the courtesy of Lodovico Calderara, the son of Mario.
I heartily recommend that you visit the site to read the whole story of his life and career and to enjoy the many photographs which illustrate his accomplishments.
To visit the site, just click on: Calderara.

Mario Calderara pilots the first Italian seaplane in 1911
I found this little video on YouTube.
To view it, just click on the title.

Wilbur Wright Meets Calderara - 1909
Nel 1909 Wilburn in visita nel nostro paese si incontrerą con Calderara; dopo 5 mesi di corso il giovane veronese otterrą il primo brevetto di pilota di aereo in Italia. Il 15 dicembre 1911 Calderara prenderą con successo il volo con un idrovolante da lui creato. L'Italia intanto si era gią affacciata alla storia aereonoutica con alcune originali diavolerie tipo il Triplano di Aristide Faccioli o il singolare aereocurvo denominato Ponzelli-Miller. Ma sarą la Grande Guerra a confermare il ruolo di primo piano del nuovo mezzo. Wilbur si spegnerą nel 1912 a Dayton, nell'Ohio. Alla sua morte il fratello diverrą presidente dell' American Wright Company, societą che verrą ceduta soltanto tre anni dopo in cambio di una forte somma di danaro. Orville lavorerą come consulente fino all'anno della sua morte: Dayton, 1948.


On 1909, Wilbur Wright, during his visit to our country, has met Calderara; the young Veronese will get the first aerial pilot's license in Italy after a five month course. On 15 December 1911, Calderara will fly successfully on a seaplane created by himself. Meanwhile, Italy has already appeared in aeronautical history by virtue of some ingenious gadgets like the Triplane of Aristide Faccioli or the singular blentplane called Ponzelli-Miller. But it will be the Great War to confirm the major part of the new means. Wilbur will pass away on 1912 at Dayton in Ohio. On his death, his brother will become the president of the American Wright Company; the company will be sold only three years later in exchange for a large sum of money. Orville will work as a consultant till the year of his death: Dayton, 1948
Article and translation courtesy of Giovanni Giorgetti, 10-31-08

     A book has recently been published,with the title "Mario Calderara, aviator and inventor" (The book is in Italian and is to be translated in English in the future). It has been written by Mario's son Lodovico in cooperation with Italian Air Force general Attilio Marchetti, who has written several books and papers about the history of aviation. The book attempts to narrate the life of Mario Calderara with historical accuracy, and to make a faithful portrait of the individual, underlining some interesting ideas and intuitions which inspired him both as a pioneer pilot and as an airplane designer.
     In 1935 Mario Calderara, who was living in Paris at the time, wrote a brief report called "My recollections of aviation" which summarized his activities during the first years of flying. Many excerpts of this paper have been included in the book, as they constitute the only autobiographic document available today.

Email from Sergio Calderara - 1-27-02
     Thank you for your kind e-mail of last week. I have visited your page on Mario Calderara on the Early Birds of Aviation site and was very glad to find out about it.
     I would like to give just a few background information on Mario Calderara's website: the website is based on information contained in a book recently published in Italy (in Italian only, unfortunately), with the contribution of the Caproni Museum of Trento (the largest private aeronautics museum in Italy). All the relevant historical research was carried by Attilio Marchetti, a retired General of Italian Airforce, co-author of the book with Lodovico Calderara, the son of Mario. This allowed, on one hand, to have exact historical information and objective data collected and on the other hand, at the same time, pat of the "inside story" with family anecdotes and access to the family archive (information collected by the wife of Mario Calderara including pictures, projects, letters...etc.)
     Finally, with reference to the webmaster (myself), I am, in my turn, the son of Lodovico. When the book came out, I thought that it ought to be accompanied by the creation of a website.... and the best way to do it was to do it myself, although I work in a totally different field!
     You have my authorisation, as well as Lodovico Calderara's express authorisation to use the text and any photographs from M.Calderara's website for the page that you mention in your email. You may quote as the source either "" or Lodovico Calderara.

     Mario Cobianchi has written 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 Cei Giuseppe, Vivaldi Pasqua marquis Ugolino and Cammarota Adorno Enrico.
Photo & text courtesy of Giovanni Giorgetti, 10-10-04

Mario Calderara died in 1944

Editor's Note:
If you have any more information on this Early Flier,
please contact me.
E-mail to Ralph Cooper

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