The College of Military Aeronautics was designed to indoctrinate young aviators being trained there with the ideal of the flying hero, ready to fight. The unique mosaic walls inside the building celebrating the myth of flight exert a deep fascination on the spectator still today – despite the terrible ideals behind them.
Fusion of functional and celebrative elements
The college of military aeronautics was designed to give future pilots and engineers an appropriate technical and ideological training for the Fascist regime. The imposing U-shaped building is dominated by two blocks: a residential block and one for educational and sports activities. Cesare Valle designed the building for 400 students, combining celebrative and functional elements in a monumental stile littorio, though rationalist in its layout. Thus, besides the functional aspect, the building shows strong propagandist elements.
Architecture, art and propaganda
Architecture and art were merged for propagandist aims. In front of the building, a monumental marble Statue of Icarus celebrates the myth of flight. In the entrance hall, unique wall mosaics narrate the history of human flight from its mythological origins up to the “glorious” days of Italian Fascist aviators. The fascination of flight was used to indoctrinate future aviators with the ideal of the courageous flying hero, ready to fight.
Propaganda v. reality
The College of Military Aeronautics, the Forlì airport and the Caproni aeroplane factory in Predappio were the result of an invented new “brand” related to the vocation of flying. However, propaganda was far from reality: Forlì never became a modern centre for aviation; the predominantly rural population never embraced the ideal of the flying hero; the Caproni factory never produced fighter aircrafts, but airplanes of low technology with no mechanical tradition to build upon. Today, the mosaics tell the story of an ideological folly in total contrast with reality.