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September 5, 2021

World's First: Aeroplane flies through a tunnel at 245 kph to set World Records.

Italian pilot Dario Costa clears Turkey’s dual Çatalca Tunnels in under 44 seconds.

Red Bull, Dario Costa

Red Bull, Dario Costa

Red Bull, Dario Costa

Red Bull, Dario Costa

Red Bull, Dario Costa

Red Bull, Dario Costa

Red Bull, Dario Costa

Red Bull, Dario Costa

Photos: Dario Costa. Aerobatic Airshows. Location: Turkey. Saturday, September 04, 2021. Images provided by & copyright © Red Bull.

Just after dawn on Saturday, September 4, 2021, professional race and stunt pilot Dario Costa of Italy wrote a new chapter in aviation history. He flew a race plane through the narrow confines of two enclosed auto tunnels just outside Istanbul. In near-darkness and closely surrounded by the concrete arc of the walls, Costa executed a tricky takeoff inside the first tunnel, flashed through an open-air gap, and then continued his 245kph flight through the second tunnel, flying less than 1m from the asphalt.

Costa, 41, won the top category of the Italian Aerobatic Championship and became the first Italian pilot to join, and earn a race win in, the Red Bull Air Race Challenger Class. He has over two decades of flying experience and numerous aviation feats to his credit. He has flown more than 60 airplane models and logged over 5,000 hours in the air - more than half in high-performance aerobatics.

Tunnel Pass was by far Costa’s most demanding and complex undertaking yet, requiring a team of 40 people, specially developed training techniques, and more than a year of preparation. Throughout, the project was shrouded in secrecy to limit variables and distractions, allowing complete focus for a successful flight that was no more than a simple idea on paper 12 months ago.

Located outside Istanbul on Northern Marmara Highway and initially put into service in March 2020, the dual Çatalca tunnels are state-of-the-art; but were designed for automobile traffic, not the flight of an aircraft.

From takeoff to exiting the second tunnel, the flight lasted 43.44 seconds, covering a distance of 2,260m / 2.26km and reaching a top speed of 245kph.

Changes to airflow, combined with the highly sensitive steering of the aircraft, required pilot reaction times of less than 250 milliseconds and delicate hand movements of mere millimeters throughout the flight. One of the most critical moments came at the 360m gap between tunnels, which exposed the race plane to crosswinds as Costa prepared to thread it into the low, narrow opening of the second tunnel.

Costa described: “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 crosswinds, and in my head, everything slowed down at that moment. I reacted and 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 the race plane shot out of the other side, Costa pulled it into a celebratory loop before landing. The ecstatic pilot said: “I’d never flown in a tunnel in my life - nobody had ever done it .”

The achievement set a new Guinness World Record: Longest Tunnel Flown through with an Aeroplane (1,610 m). Four other notable records were:

Péter Besenyei, 65, mentored Costa. Besenyei is a Hungarian aerobatic and racing pilot, an aviation legend renowned for his role in developing and competing in the Red Bull Air Race. Besenyei is also well known for feats such as flying upside down under the Chain Bridge in Budapest.

Besenyei said: “To fly in a tunnel is not a normal situation. The main point is the mindset. Because flying straight at one meter off the ground and following a centerline is technically not so difficult if you are over a runway. But in the tunnel, especially a dark tunnel, coming out of the tunnel into the light and then back into another dark tunnel is different. And also, some airwaves can affect the flight, and you should expect some bumps. So it’s difficult in your mind because you know that if you make a mistake, the wall is hard.”

Source: Red Bull

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Edited & Posted by the Editor | 12:16 PM | Link to this Post

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