Airgreen's Agusta Bell AB139 with registration I-ASAR high up in the Italian montains (Image © Dino Marcellino)

SOS: A stunning rescue experience

Italian heli-rescue in action (Image © Dino Marcellino)
Italian heli-rescue in action (Image © Dino Marcellino)

A “stunning experience” is what Italian freelance photographer / journalist Dino Marcellino (54) calls every single chopper flight he was on. He put together an impressive book solely focused on the Italian rescue helicopter operations. Exclusively for AIRheads↑Fly Dino shares his experiences with you.

“When I hear the ‘music’ of a plane of helicopter I need to turn my eyes to the sky, ever since I was young”, says Mr. Marcellino. “Being interested in photography my two passions easily united.”

At the AIRheads↑Fly editor’s desk the spread pages of SOS – Italian Helicopter Rescue Operations from Mediterranean Sea to Mont Blanc just keep distracting me. The wonderful photography, the nice reading (all in English) and the clean design are very inspiring. In fact, I caught myself thinking about the nearest possible helicopter landing site and if my camera’s batteries are still fully loaded.

Dino Marcellino: “Although not a pilot myself, I flew along in more than twenty different types of helicopters. Every time it is a very stunning experience. From witnessing the launch of a torpedo from a navy helicopter and training ops of Italian assault forces, to the landing on a glacier at 12,000 feet with a ski-equipped helicopter. Each helicopter flight is unique and unforgettable, but being with the rescue teams is even more special since ‘the human factor’ is very strong.”

The picture that made the evening news. Notice the Agusta licence-built NH-500MD of the Guardia di Finanza with registration GdiF 112 (Image © Dino Marcellino)
The picture that made the evening news. Notice the Agusta licence-built NH-500MD of the Guardia di Finanza with registration GdiF 112 (Image © Dino Marcellino)

Avalanche
The best way to understand how these professional airmen [of the helicopter rescue services] work, is to see them in action, writes the Italian freelance journalist in his book. Fortunately he never had to be really rescued in a life-threatening situation himself, but Mr. Marcellino came close once.

“It was a rescue operation after an avalanche. I flew on board a little NH-500 and jumped from the hovering helicopter. I plunged into the white powder with the camera bag and all, with the snow up to my chest. Very cold. It was impossible for me to move. Somehow I had the clear presence of mind to keep the camera above my head when I went down. So I shot some images from where I was. Not being able to get out myself, I had to be ‘recovered’ by helicopter, with some difficulty.”

One of the images Dino Marcellino shot from his snowed-in position made it to the evening news at Italian national TV Channel 1, and now here (see above) at AIRheads↑Fly.

Airgreen's Agusta Bell AB139 with registration I-ASAR high up in the Italian montains (Image © Dino Marcellino)
Air Green’s Agusta Bell AB139 with registration I-ASAR high up in the Italian montains (Image © Dino Marcellino)

Emergency
SOS – Italian Helicopter Rescue Operations from Mediterranean Sea to Mont Blanc is a book that gives us all the possibility to discover the many organisations operating in the air rescue sector of Italy. “Men and women belonging to military organisations, state services and civilian operators are all united by one mission: to bring professional rescue and medical assistance by helicopter wherever there is an emergency.”

As Mr. Marcellino emphasises they do have some challenges. The Italian rescue sector goes all the way down from the Mediterranean Sea to the highest point in Europe not counting the Caucasus: the Mont Blanc towering at a height of 4,807 metres or 15,780 feet.

An Italian Air Force HH-3F Sea King of 83° Gruppo with code 15-23 during a sea rescue training op (Image © Dino Marcellino)
An Italian Air Force HH-3F Sea King of 83° Gruppo with code 15-23 during a sea rescue training op
(Image © Dino Marcellino)

Sensation
“With this book I share my experiences and show what heli-rescue really is. While making the book I went through all kinds of phases. During some days the work turned out to be very binding, sometimes it was highly emotional and a few days were very sad. Once I find a sponsor I will put more of that in my next book.”

Three times in his life Dino Marcellino was allowed to pilot a chopper – just for a few minutes. “It is a great sensation, being one with this kind of machine. Nothing else can give you such a feeling than a helicopter.”

© 2014 AIRheads’ editor Marcel Burger

Book cover of SOS - Italian Helicopter Rescue Operations from Mediterranean Sea to Mont BlancSOS – Italian Helicopter Rescue Operations from Mediterranean Sea to Mont Blanc
By Dino Marcellino
Written in English, published on high-quality 170gr glossy paper, 148 pages, 278 colour images (all by Dino Marcellino), hard cover.
EUR 30 (about US$ 38), plus post & packaging. FOR PURCHASE AND PAYMENT DETAILS contact author/photographer Dino Marcellino directly at: dino.marcellino@live.it