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Stunt pilot pulls off daring world-first tunnel flight

Vanessa Brown, September 9, 2021 6:30PM news.com.au

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Italian race and stunt pilot Dario Costa emerges from one of the tunnels on his record setting flight in Turkey. media_cameraItalian race and stunt pilot Dario Costa emerges from one of the tunnels on his record setting flight in Turkey.

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A stunt pilot has pulled off a daring* world-first flight through two road tunnels.

Italian race and stunt pilot Dario Costa started his specially modified Zivko Edge 540 race plane inside one of the dual Çatalca Tunnels on Turkey’s Northern Marmara Highway near Istanbul.

Costa, who has more than two decades of flying experience and has logged more than 5000 hours in the air, had been dreaming of doing a “tunnel pass” for years, describing the flight as the most demanding and complex* challenge of his career.

The daring flight, which took place on September 4, was caught on camera.

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With limited overhead clearance*, the pilot had to keep the aircraft flying just above the asphalt road while also managing the cosy margin of only 4m between each wingtip and the concrete walls of the tunnel.

One wrong move, and the stunt could have ended in disaster.

Changes to the airflow in the tunnel, combined with the highly sensitive steering of the aircraft, required reaction times of less than 250 milliseconds from Costa.

The moment the plane entered the tunnel. media_cameraThe moment pilot Dario Costa entered one of the Çatalca Tunnels in his specially modified Zivko Edge 540 race plane.

The stunt pilot flew through the first 360m tunnel, followed by the longer 1160m tunnel in just 43.44 seconds.

In a statement, Costa said the biggest challenge was flying through the 360m gap between the two tunnels because he had to deal with tricky crosswinds* while gearing up to enter the second tunnel.

“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.

“I reacted and just focused on getting the plane back on the right path to enter the other tunnel. Then in my mind, everything sped up all over again.”

Dario Costa sets world record by flying a plane through a road tunnel. media_cameraDario Costa averaged a speed of 245km/h as he flew through the road tunnels in Turkey.

Flying at an average speed of 245km/h, Costa also had to manage changes in the second tunnel’s incline* and shape.

The flight covered a distance of 2.26km from takeoff to exit from the second tunnel. And in less than 44 seconds, Costa had set a certified* Guinness World Record plus four more records.

The Guinness World Record was for the longest tunnel flown through by an aeroplane, while the four other records were: first aeroplane flight through a tunnel, longest flight under a solid obstacle, first aeroplane flight through two tunnels and first aeroplane takeoff from a tunnel.

“I’d never flown in a tunnel in my life – nobody had ever done it – so there was a big question mark in my head whether everything would go as we expected,” Costa said.

“It was a big relief, of course, but big, big happiness was the main emotion. For me, it’s another dream come true.”

GLOSSARY

  • daring: adventurous and courageous
  • complex: complicated, made up of many parts
  • overhead clearance: space above
  • crosswinds: winds blowing across someone’s direction of travel
  • incline: slope
  • certified: officially recognised

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QUICK QUIZ

  1. What is the name of the stunt pilot?
  2. Which country is he from?
  3. In which country are the tunnels that he flew through?
  4. How long did it take the pilot to complete his daring flight?
  5. What average speed did he fly at?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Write a Description
Think about a stunt that a stunt person like Dario Costa could perform in your suburb or town. Your stunt person has an unlimited amount of money to spend. Write a Kids News story about the stunt.

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English

2. Extension
What personal qualities do you think Dario needed to do such an amazing thing? Write a list of the qualities that you think he would have. Next to each quality, write a sentence explaining why it is important for kids to have this quality, too.

Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English,  Personal and Social Capability

VCOP ACTIVITY
Commentate the Race
Wow what a feat, and probably pretty scary for not only Dario Costa, but for the spectators as well.

Decide if you will commentate the events leading up to the stunt, the moments just before the stunt or the stunt itself. Then create a paragraph of script that you can read out in your best commentator’s voice.

Remember commentators like to create a lot of voice, so you’ll need to really focus on your VCOP Skills. They use a mix of short sharp sentences to build suspense. They use power openers to draw us in and lots of emotive language to get our emotions racing.

Practise reading your script out to work on your delivery. Share it with a family member or classmate to see what they think.

Extra Reading in just for fun