Giro d'Italia, the multiple stage bycicle race around Italy, passed through Slovenia (Brda and Nova Gorica) during its 15th stage on Sunday, 23rd May, 2021. The Italian national public broadcasting company (RAI) operated a fleet of helicopters, but then decided to outsource aerial shooting. The first helicopter was initially used at the Giro d’Italia in the eighties. A cameraman in the aircraft held a video camera on his back and shot the race. The same helicopter was also broadcasting the images shot from the cameramen on the motorbikes. The helicopter had to fly low to make good shots, but that was not optimal for broadcasting, so in 1984 they added another helicopter, that was used only for aerial television relay. At the end of the eighties the cameraman was replaced by a Wescam gyro stabilised camera. This technology is still in use.
On Sunday the shooting was provided by an AS350B3 (I-LMOA) of the Italian aerial operator Elitellina and an AS350B2 (I-AMSH) of E+S Air. The images were transmitted by an AS350B3 (I-TORG) of Elitellina, that was flying over the Brda region at approx. 7000 ft and a Piper PA-31T Cheyenne 2 (I-CGAT), that took off from Venice Marco Polo where it returned after a little bit more than five hours of flying. The plane was circling at an altitude of approx. 25000 ft.
Usually the Italian Police employs at least one aircraft to patrol the area around the finish line of the stage. On Sunday the Police sent a Partenavia P-68 Observer (PS-B05) plane and a Leonardo AW139 helicopter over Gorizia. The race was followed also by a Leonardo AW119 Koala (I-ELOP), that was probably carrying some VIPs. The 15th stage started in Grado and ended in Gorizia with the victory of the belgian rider Victor Campenaerts of Team Qhubeka Assos. The winner arrived at the finish line more than 17 minutes before the maglia rosa group.
The Giro d’Italia has a global audience of almost 800 million people. For safety reasons the helicopters can’t fly in all weather and on the following day the fleet was grounded. The live broadcast without the help from the sky was challenging.