The incident happened on the same weekend that a third light aircraft crashed on a tourist beach near Rome, just 150 miles away on the opposite coast, narrowly missing sunbathing tourists and families with children.
The two experienced pilots who flew into one another were heading for the Spiaggia d’Argento Air Show in Alba Adriatica on Italy’s east coast.
Luigi Wilmo Franceschetti, 43, crash-landed, but second pilot Marco Ricci, 47, died after the wing of his aircraft sheared off in the crash.
A witness told Corriere della Serra: ‘We were walking along the seafront of Tortoreto, we saw two planes flying at low altitude and not very fast.
‘When they clashed we heard a bang. Help arrived instantly, both by sea and by land.’
Airshow organisers posted two brief messages on the event’s Facebook page, saying: ‘Our hearts go out to all the relatives of Marco Ricci. RIP.
‘And we wish a speedy recovery to pilot Luigi Wilmo Franceschetti.’
No other aircraft were involved in the second incident, which saw a small plane forced into an emergency landing – believed to be due to a mechanical failure – at Santa Severa, 30 miles up the coast from Rome.
The unnamed pilots, who both survived the crash, are thought to have been taken to a local hospital and an investigation has been launched.
Video footage from the scene shows hundreds of onlookers gathered around the wreckage, with the propeller buried in the sand at the water’s edge.