Fans at Europe’s largest airshow on September 2-3 witnessed an aerial ‘orchestration’ that’s never been seen before: in the Red Bull Aerobatic Triple, pilot Dario Costa flew his aeroplane to interweave with the twisting trajectories of a helicopter and three wingsuit pilots for spectacular simultaneous flight. Marking almost a year to the day since Costa became the first person to fly an aeroplane through a tunnel, the new achievement is available to watch on demand, only on Red Bull TV.
Several years ago, aerobatic and stunt pilot Dario Costa and Flying Bulls pilot Mirko Flaim had an idea: three modes of flight – aeroplane, helicopter and skydiving – synchronized in an entirely new way. In Zeltweg, Austria on Friday and Saturday, that spark of an idea became reality as, joined by fellow flying experts and fans at the AIRPOWER22 airshow, the duo unveiled the Red Bull Aerobatic Triple, a display so varied and complex that it’s practically an airshow in itself.
The core of the performance saw Costa flying the same Zivko Edge 540 plane he flew for a record-setting 2021 project called Tunnel Pass as well as in Red Bull Air Race. Meanwhile Flaim took the controls of The Flying Bulls’ BO-105, the only type of helicopter authorized for aerobatic flight, and the Red Bull Skydive Team performed precision flying in wingsuits, with the three forms of flight interweaving as they looped and rolled through the sky.
Costa compares the individual elements to instruments in an orchestra that – when playing in perfect combination – produce an even greater effect. He adds, “The most demanding part is to work within the ‘orchestra’, not looking just at yourself and your own performance, but at how your performance can help the others. All the parts are in synchronization, they melt together.”
Also joining in the composition were additional skydivers and aircraft, and the participants planned and trained in Austria and Slovenia over an extensive period to get every note just right. Key to the effort was the expertise of The Flying Bulls, a group of exceptionally skilled pilots and aviation professionals based at Salzburg’s Hangar-7.
“The whole crew is made up of professionals with incredible experience,” Costa explains. “What we are trying to do is not just to entertain, but also to educate and inspire.”
Costa’s Tunnel Pass feat on September 4, 2021 was also more than a year in the making and required a team of experts to prepare and carry out. In an auto tunnel outside Istanbul, Turkey, the then-41-year-old first managed a delicate takeoff within the walls. Then with pinpoint precision he flew his single-seater plane through tight confines, flashed out in an exterior gap, and traversed a second tunnel, averaging speeds of 303.8 kph. No one had ever flown a plane through a tunnel – or underground – and the aviation first not only set a Guinness World Record but went viral on video.
“In aviation, we have the chance to give back, so for me achievements like Tunnel Pass and the Red Bull Aerobatic Triple are a reason to feel happy,” Costa says. “I hope we have inspired people out there to keep pushing and to try to turn their own dreams into reality.”