The Italian Connection.

St. Pio in flight in Northern Italy, with the shelter of the Italian/French Alps in the background

As most of you know, both myself and St. Pio have an ongoing friendship that we developed over the past number of years. This stems from a devotion my late mother Ann Murphy had to Padre Pio. It's from that devotion that I got this balloon (pictured above). It was a stock envelope meaning it was already pre-made so both the specification and entire colour scheme was set in stone. I also ordered an out of sequence aircraft registration mark for it. G-PPIO was born. 

Based in Italy, on it's maiden flight here and on packing it away, I glance behind the semi deflated 90,000 cu. ft envelope, and there is a large sign made up of 15 foot high individual letters perched on the rooftop of a building. The letters spell the word 'CHRIST'. Nothing more, nothing less. On another occasion while travelling out to Italy to fly St. Pio, my Aer Lingus passenger booking reference was '2ANNBF'. It also transpires that one of the local Italian balloon crew here is a direct descendent of Padre Pio. I could literally go on and on and offer more coincidences. 

Every time St. Pio flies, on each landing, the Italian landowner is given a gift of a rather special balloon pin. 

      The St. Pio Hot Air Balloon lapel pin. 

So since I got ill, as you can probably now appreciate, St. Pio has been close by me. If I miss his presence, he generally makes it known. Just yesterday, an unknown Padre Pio pin fell out of a bag Alison's late Dad Chris had used to mind original hand written letters that himself and Alison's late mother Jane wrote to each other. 

If you read back towards the beginning of this particular individual blog, you will see that the colour scheme 
of the St. Pio Hot Air Balloon was fully predetermined as it was premade prior to purchase. Now take a look at the image below of the Vatican based Swiss Guards and G-PPIO. It took an Italian friend, Gianfranco Lombardo, to point this out to me. 

The Swiss Guard, the official bodyguard to the Pope. 
St. Pio flying low-level in Northern Italy
(Note the uncanny resemblence to the colours of the Swiss Guard). 

What's this they say.....
Truth is stranger than fiction. 

As always, thanks so much for taking the time in reading my blog. 



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