An Italian pilot has set a world record by becoming the first to fly an aircraft through a tunnel. Dario Costa actually flew through two tunnels on a freeway in Turkey on Saturday to claim five Guinness records. Costa took off in the first tunnel and flew its length in an Extra 300 at about five feet AGL. He had about 15 feet of clearance on the wingtips and flew at about 140 knots.

Things got a little interesting when he broke out into the early morning sunshine to line up with the second tunnel, about 400 yards ahead. “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 in that moment,” he said in a Red Bull-produced story. “I reacted and just focused on getting the plane back on the right path to enter the other tunnel.” He covered about 1.5 miles in 44 seconds.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.


  1. Not sure where I left my EFB, but 1.5 miles in 44 secs seems closer to 120 (knots or mph, depending on what kind of miles)…unless it was kilometers via car, 120 is still beyond any of my signoffs,

    Probably want an ezpass…tossing quarters at the cash basket could be a problem.

  2. Uh OH!! Possible subject matter for another (great) PB “Bad for Aviation” video.
    OR … Martha Lunken should tell the FAA, “How come HE gets to do that and I can’t?”
    OR … she could just move to Turkey and fly anyhow.
    Michael Goulian probably wouldn’t be in a guest vignette in any such PB video, however? 🙂

    Saaay … I just watched a video about how they make video stories on BBCA … maybe PB should make one of himself rolling around on the hangar floor laughing heartily as he’s making his funny videos.

    It’s Labor Day weekend and the aviation news is slow …

  3. You get awards for that because…… stop traffic for hours, you jeopardize every safety lesson you preach about, you risk damage to millions of dollars worth of material and workmanship, you risk the pilots life and anyone else in or near the tunnel.

    Why? a YouTube video and views.

    What a society we have become.

  4. Another Darwin Candidate exploiting other users and distracting police from preventing robbery, rape, and murder. Shameful!

    With the Red Bull outfit complicit. May or may not have the decency to say “Don’t try stunts while bombed on our booze.” Some marketing people are irresponsible idiots.

    • Lighten up Keith. You’re clearly too smart to take such risks and I can shudder if I get too invested in the vividness of some of mine. But you missed out on some pretty major moments if you never put your body where your mind was back in the day, when you knew some of those rules were made by old farts who’d lost their nerve or never had it. I was lucky to have an upbringing that let me do that. Maybe you didn’t or maybe it never occurred to you. I’ll happily pay a few extra bucks on my insurance to cover those who dared and failed if it means we don’t become too harsh that no one ever tries.

  5. Most every population can be statistically described along a bell shaped curve graph. The majority of a population, about 68%, occupies the center portion. The remaining 32% is split equally on the edges. When describing human emotion, the left edge is composed of people who are cautious. The right edge is composed of people who engage in life threatening activities. Aviators tend to occupy that right edge. One piece of anecdotal evidence supporting this is that almost all conversations, acronyms, stories, and training about flying include or begin with the word “safety”. Most people don’t have to be reminded to avoid life threatening behaviors. As a matter of routine, aviators do.

    • Disagree. True aviators exercise caution IMO. Many non-aviators are not cautious, such as yahoo motor vehicle drivers (motorcyclists especially, one in my region killed himself by passing traffic on the right, his eagerness was interrupted by an out-of-place roadside barrier).

    • “The right edge is composed of people who engage in life threatening activities. Aviators tend to occupy that right edge.”

      Maybe you do. But just about every pilot I know would be classified as being at the other end of your spectrum.

    • His feat puts the structure of the tunnels at risk. I don’t know specifically how much damage this aerobatic plane could cause when it strikes the lighting, ventilation, and concrete of that structure. I doubt that his liability insurance covers this type of flying. If the structure is a public utility, then it’s the tax payers who are forced to pay. Unless, of course, the tunnel has insurance that covers this sort of risk…or that an insurer would even offer this type of coverage.

  6. I guess it is a risk/reward thing. Sometimes you just want to shoot-the-moon. If you REALLY want to do it and the people affected agree, why not? It’s your life.

    That being said, my father told me of the time he flew an SNJ through Hangar 1 at Moffett field. It was not long after WW-II and there were lots of young pilots with nothing to do and lots of avgas to do it with. Needless to say, many questionable things happened back then. (He looped the Golden Gate in an F8F too.) I liked best the end of his story which went, “As soon as I entered the hangar I realized this was a REALLY BAD idea. Unfortunately I was committed.”

    I had a similar kind of decision to make. After flying around the world following Amelia Earhart’s route I had an airplane with which to fly Lindbergh’s route and set the speed record from NY to Paris. I would just have to fly over the N Atlantic in February to take advantage of a positive phase of the N Atlantic oscillation and get the winds that would let me shatter the old record. I had to consider the threats, i.e., engine failure and icing, consider the risk of possibly dying in the cold water of the Atlantic, and then balance that with the reward — a plaque on my wall that said I had the speed record.

    I didn’t go.

  7. Phenomenal skill.

    Belford D. Maule did the same thing on a much smaller scale in the Sixties. He took off inside and flew out the doors of his company’s hangar.

  8. I thought it was really cool. For those critiquing this, it’s no different than any airshow: show me an airshow where cops aren’t there etc, risk isn’t there etc. Ultimately this is entertainment and people are always intrigued- just like an airshow

  9. I would like to know where he has focused his eyes/vision in order to fly that precisely. In the video, the sides and ground of the tunnel are a blur. The only thing not a blur is the far opening.

  10. Fist of all, the risk was the pilot. Was it a stunt, yes, but a well planned one apparently and it worked out. This isn’t the average PP doing this.
    BTW, had he hit the tunnel, it would have barely sustained a scratch. It’s built like a rock. Oh wait it is a rock.
    Red Bull does stuff like this for publicity, clearly, but they also use pro’s. If anyone tries to duplicate it, they are stupid. I would argue, flying into IMC as a VFR pilot, stupid. No video’s needed.

    Finally, when I climbed Mt. Everest, I was told it was stupid, silly, why, etc. Well, because it was something that I wanted to do. I trained, I failed, I trained and in the end, it was worth it. If someone tried to climb their local mountain or hill and not trained, stupid.