Dario Costa: freedom vibes
The sense of freedom is something extremely personal. For Dario Costa, freedom means setting new records in aerobatic flying and air racing, living out the dream of a lifetime as he flies a plane through a tunnel or heads out on his Scrambler.
Dario, first things first. What gave you the idea to fly through a tunnel in a plane?
It’s an idea I first had when I was 12, just a boy with a boundless passion for flying. I then became a stunt pilot and racing pilot, and the idea turned into something of an obsession. I wasn’t the only one with this dream, as you see a lot of planes going through tunnels in the movies and cartoons. But I was the first to do it for real.
What preparation did such a challenge require?
All the experience accumulated in more than 20 years of flying, plus a year of specific training to have the maximum possible reactivity for the entire 43 seconds of crossing the tunnel. There were many obstacles, starting with the pressure waves generated by the passage of the plane, to which I had to respond with a reaction time of less than 250 milliseconds, much less than the usual 400. And then the continuous changes in light, dozens in the time span of a single second, for which I trained my eyes with special stroboscopic glasses.
On 4 September 2021, Dario Costa set a new record in the history of aviation, flying his racing plane for 43.44 seconds at an average speed of 250 km/h through the Çatalca tunnel in Turkey.
What did you want to demonstrate by doing this?
We’ve all driven a car or ridden a motorcycle through a tunnel, so we can all appreciate that a plane shouldn’t be there. But I wanted to prove that this isn’t the case. That talent does not exist, and that we can do absolutely anything with the right training, dedication, and preparation.
Talent doesn’t exist, but perhaps a vocation does? How did you discover yours?
I think it all depends on what we see and absorb as children. I grew up in Libya and was lucky enough to get on a plane when I was still very young. I’ve always been fascinated by the sense of infinity you feel when you fly. When I’m on a plane, I feel free and don’t think about anything except flying and enjoying the view.
“When I’m on a plane, I feel free and don’t think about anything except flying and enjoying the view.”
And your passion for motorcycling? How did that come about?
When I was six, my family moved to Bologna, just round the corner from the Ducati factory. For a child who dreamed of flying, it was only natural that I also fell in love with motorsport. I started to ride bikes at 14 and never stopped, but my passion goes beyond the riding itself. I mean, I would spend a whole day just admiring a Panigale V4 R. And I also love the fact that I can be hands-on with a motorcycle.
You currently have a fully customised Ducati Scrambler in your garage in fact.
Yes, I chose a Scrambler because I wanted a bike that you can use every day and that is easy to customise. The Scrambler Icon Dark was the perfect base, I just wanted to make it a little more race inspired. So I’ve put in two 19’’ wheels, a custom exhaust made for me by the guys at Ducati Salzburg, and the handlebar of the Scrambler Full Throttle.
How do you spend your time riding the Ducati Scrambler? Do you look for adventure, relaxation, or fun?
I seek exactly what I seek when flying. The bike can’t give me the same sense of infinity or views that stretch beyond the horizon of course, but the sense of freedom is the same. I could ride my Scrambler for days on end without a care in the world. I’m always in a hurry to leave, but never to arrive.
“With the bike, I’m always in a hurry to leave, but never to arrive”
Photographs by Anthony Hill and Nuri Yilmazer.