Daniel Ryfa is the only Swede ever to compete in the Red Bull Air Race. He is also the most experienced pilot in the Challenger Class, as well as one of the most successful, with 18 career podiums including seven race wins across his first five seasons.
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 licence 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. Also, he is popular in air shows internationally, whether he is 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 has been a member of the Challenger Class since its inception in 2014, when he clinched second place at the season opener, took three additional podiums and finished second in the overall points. 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 finishing a close runner-up for the Challenger Cup in both seasons.
The high point of Ryfa's 2018 effort came when the sport made its debut in Cannes. Soaring above the Riviera, he clocked the best time in Qualifying before seizing victory, making him the first pilot to win a Red Bull Air Race event in France. Ryfa maintained his perfect career record of earning enough points for a berth in the season finale, but he was unhappy with a finish off the overall podium. He is aiming to get back to a top spot this year.
"I love flying and racing! It's a constant journey improving my skills," Ryfa declares. "There is only one goal for me, to claim the title. It's the only thing in my mind. But easy to say, hard to do, and it's probably the same for every race pilot. I'm very motivated for 2019."