Looking like a stunt from a James Bond or Mission: Impossible flick, Italian pilot, Dario Costa has just flown into the record books with this impressive Tunnel Pass. The professional race and stunt pilot was at the controls of this complete bonkers stunt orchestrated by Red Bull.
Just after dawn on 4 September, Costa flew a raceplane through two enclosed auto tunnels just outside Istanbul. In near-darkness and closely surrounded by concrete arc of the walls, Costa executed a tricky take-off inside the first tunnel. He then flashed through an open-air gap and then continued his 245kph flight through the second tunnel.
All in all, he flew less than 1m from the asphalt. From take-off to exiting the second tunnel, the flight lasted 43.44 seconds, covering a distance 2.26km. The achievement set a new Guinness World Record: Longest Tunnel Flown through with an Aeroplane (1,610 m).
Cost also broke four other notable records were: first aeroplane flight through a tunnel, longest flight under a solid obstacle (1,610 m), first aeroplane flight through two tunnels, first aeroplane take-off from a tunnel.
This feat was by far Costa’s most demanding and complex undertaking yet. The 41 year-old pilot is both an Italian Aerobatic Championship and Red Bull Air Race Challenger Class winner. He has over two decades of flying experience under his belt and not to mention nerves of steel.
The Tunnel Pass required a team of 40 people to put together. Shrouded in secrecy, the stunt was planned to precision, with calculation of changes to the airflow and crosswinds along with the highly sensitive steering of the aircraft.
“Everything seemed to be happening so fast, but when I got out of the first tunnel, the plane started to move to the right because of the cross winds,” described Costa. “In my head, everything slowed down in that moment. I reacted and just focused on getting the plane back on the right path to enter the other tunnel. Then in my mind everything sped up all over again.”
When his specially modified Zivko Edge 540 raceplane, Costa pulled it into a celebratory loop before landing. Located outside Istanbul on Northern Marmara Highway, the dual Çatalca tunnels were initially put into service in March 2020.
The state-of-the-art tunnels were designed for automobile traffic, not the flight of an aircraft. However thanks to Red Bull and the skilled hands of Dario Costa, they have proved to the world otherwise. Check out the video below for quick look at the historic Tunnel Pass.
(Images: Samo Vidic / Red Bull Content Pool)