Daniel Ryfa is the only Swede ever to compete in the Red Bull Air Race. He's also the most experienced pilot in the Challenger Class, as well as one of the most successful: claiming the podium in 70 percent of his races. That consistency has put Ryfa among the top three overall in every one of his four previous Air Racing seasons, and he's keen to extend that record in 2018's new Challenger Class raceplane, a fast, powerful Edge 540.
"I'm very exited about the Edge. I think it will improve the value for the Challenger Class and make it even more interesting for both pilots and spectators," he states.
Ryfa is additionally Sweden's top aerobatic pilot, claiming European, Nordic and national championships. It all started when the Stockholm native discovered his passion for aviation at age two. He began flying gliders at 14 and earned his pilot's license while a teenager, quickly developing an interest in aerobatics. In his first aerobatics competition, the 2005 Nordic Championship, he captured second place, and he went on to win the European Advanced Aerobatic Championship in 2009.
Formerly a commercial airline pilot, Ryfa now works as a Captain flying private jets worldwide, and he's popular in air shows internationally, whether he's behind the controls of a modern Sukhoi Su26 or one of the vintage aircraft that he builds, like a British fighter biplane and a record-setting monoplane from the early 1900s.
Ryfa took to Air Racing immediately in 2014, clinching second place at the season opener. Three additional podiums followed that year, putting him in second overall, and new breakthroughs came in 2015 with his first two race wins. Strong results in 2016 and 2017 were highlighted by four more victories, with Ryfa taking the battle for the Challenger Cup right down to the wire and finishing a close runner-up in both seasons. Despite his accomplishments, he's determined to boost his skills higher yet.
"In 2017 I was flying with high competitive risk to improve my times, meaning it was very easy to pick up penalties. This year I will continue to push with the Edge, but I'll try to put a lot of focus also on flying cleaner," Ryfa explains. "My goal is to win and collect more podiums."