Making his Challenger Class debut last season, Dario Costa became the sport's first Italian pilot, and earned Italy's first Red Bull Air Race podium in only his second race. Costa's achievement was the latest milestone in a well-rounded career that combines championship-winning results in aerobatics with expertise 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 has been passionate about going airborne since his maiden flight at age one. He piloted solo at 16, graduated from an aviation high school and studied 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 2003, Costa dreamed of flying in the sport, and he took every opportunity to grow. Competition like winning the national Unlimited aerobatic title was just one step on his path. He became Italy's youngest professional aerobatic instructor, and he is an established commercial pilot and a former Contest Director for the World Aerobatic Championships. Beginning in 2013 Costa worked at the Red Bull Air Race as Flight Operations Manager and Development Pilot, involved in everything from running race airports to testing equipment, ferrying planes and taking photographers aloft. 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 substantially more than 4,500 hours – over half while performing aerobatics – in more than 50 aeroplane models.
Costa jumped at the chance to join the Challenger Class in 2018, and after a strong fourth place at the season opener in Abu Dhabi, he pushed even harder in April's Red Bull Air Race debut at Cannes, France for his landmark podium in third place. In 2019, he is looking to bring Italy more podiums and its first race win.
"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 third dimension of motorsport," Costa says. "Incredible support has been coming my way from Italy, and I feel very honoured to represent a country that has given so much to aviation and was the first to believe in the flying dream, starting from Leonardo da Vinci."