Making his Challenger Class debut in 2018, Dario Costa is the first pilot to represent Italy in the Red Bull Air Race. It's the latest milestone in a well-rounded career that combines championship-winning expertise in aerobatics with noted skills as a flight instructor and display pilot, as well as a manager and organiser of top-level aviation events.
Born in 1980, Costa grew up in Bologna, and he has been passionate about going airborne since his maiden flight as a one-year-old. He piloted solo at age 16 and graduated from an aviation high school, subsequently studying physics at university before working with an aviation engineering company in Africa. By 21, he was teaching aerodynamics and pilot theory courses.
After seeing the Red Bull Air Race in its inaugural year, 2003, Costa dreamed of becoming a pilot in the sport, and he took every opportunity to grow. Winning the national aerobatic title in the Unlimited class was just one step on his path. In 2010 he became Italy's youngest professional aerobatic instructor, he's an established commercial pilot, and he was also the Contest Director for the 26th World Aerobatic Championships. In 2017 Costa was named to the elite Flying Bulls team, piloting aerobatic display flights, both solo and in formation.
In all, Costa has taught over 2,000 hours and piloted more than 4,500 hours – over half while performing aerobatics – in more than 50 aeroplane models. He's eager to add racing at high speed and low altitude to his skillset.
"From the time I was little, I wanted to become a racing-car driver and pilot fast jets, and Red Bull Air Race is a combination of the two, the new dimension of motorsport," Costa says. "This has somehow been part of me since I was born, and I have been working hard for it in all aspects of aviation since the first time I saw the sport. I'm going to make the most of this opportunity, and it also means a lot personally to be the first to fly for Italy."