From Italy to the Americas: Italo Balbo's 1930 and 1933 Seaplane Squadrons
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The period between the 20th century's two World Wars saw the rise of both Fascism and unification in Italy. As a show of pride, Italian Minister of Aviation Balbo planned two trans-Atlantic crossings by his air forces' planes. Although the first was to Rio de Janeiro in 1930, Balbo's crowning achievement was the squadron sent to Chicago during the 1933 world expo. The 1930s saw an explosion of world's fairs across Europe and the United States. The Midwestern fair was famous for the "White City" that was built along the shore of Lake Michigan, with many of the architecturally advanced and beautiful buildings still standing today. The Italian planes' successful round trip in the midst of the fair was seen as a spectacular feat. Despite their promises of progress and peace, however, the fairs could not stave off the advance of fascism and resulting war. The exhibit includes posters, postcards, pamphlets, stickers, candy wrappers and even cigarette cartons that commemorate the flights. The period artwork reflects the political and cultural climate, fusing ancient elements with modern jingoism.