back to article Italian stuntman flies aeroplane through two motorway tunnels

While most of Europe was still in bed at the weekend, Italian stunt pilot Dario Costa got up early, climbed into his aeroplane and, apropos of nothing, flew it through two Turkish motorway tunnels, becoming the first person on Earth to do so. The flight, which took place through the Çatalca Tunnels on the Northern Marmara …

  1. John Robson Silver badge

    Hopefully...

    At least it looks like it was a closed road, planned event.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Hopefully...

      Shame, would be a great way to beat traffic congestion

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: Hopefully...

        Or to get killed by it... really not alot of room to deal with a van on the road.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Hopefully...

          But if roads were limited to convertibles and aircraft we could increase road capacity and average speed.

          Still a more practical solution than HS2

        2. TeeCee Gold badge
          Alert

          Re: Hopefully...

          ...as that private jet pilot found out the hard way during an overshoot at Northolt.

      2. Steven Raith

        Re: Hopefully...

        It used to work, at the very least, to beat congestion and crappy roads.

        My old man used to have to journey from the far, far north of Scotland to Manchester/Brum for work, as he oversaw some factories down there.

        Driving? At best a working day to get down there (6am to 4pm or so), hotel, freshen up the in the morning to be professional, then after the (often just one or two hour) time on site, either drive back through the night like a bat out of hell, or hotel and do the trip back the next day. Trains were worse.

        The problem was (and still is to a degree) the stretch from Wick to Inverness, which back in the 70s was all small A-Road with no dual carriageways etc - that 100 miles could take well over three hours depending on the number of tractors that buses got stuck behind, etc.

        So he was looking at light planes from a hobby standpoint, did the math, and worked out that commuting to sites via aircraft would be significantly cheaper, faster and more efficient than anything else.

        He put the business case together, and it was agreed that he could expense aircraft fuel and airport space, and other business use costs. Very much like sorting out company use for a personal car, but with wings.

        He ended up buying a part finished two seater Cessna-like, built it, got it certified (including stall and VMax testing...*) and got his PPL. He proved that his use case was correct, and he got instrument rating so he could fly on days that weren't nice and sunny (or at night) meaning that used to be a three day trip (drive down, hotel, meeting next day, meeting drags on, hotel again, drive back the next day) could be done in about ten hours flat.

        Important points:

        A:This was the 70s, the running costs for a light plane were less back then as he explained it - insurance, airport space, etc.

        B: His case was a real edge case - if he'd lived slightly south of Inverness (and thus had access to real main roads without a three hour stint beforehand) it would never have crossed his mind.

        C: He stopped using the plane once he stopped needing it - it was a bit dangerous as a 'jolly' and mother dearest was quite insistent after they had kids. Especially after a few of his friends in the flying club had...unscheduled landings, killing them. Sort of focusses the mind when a chum ends up flying into a wall at 90mph because he didn't adjust his altimeter properly when flying on instruments.

        He kept his nose in the aircraft stuff, but reverted to RC planes and choppers after that - less dangerous.

        He kept it in a field over the road from our house owned by a friendly farmer, so yes, he did use it to go and get milk from the airport two miles away. Because of course he did.

        Not sure what the point of relaying the above is - just one of those things that me old man did that makes me smile with the sheer audacity of it, the crazy old bugger.

        Steven R

        * Got a photo of him standing by the plane looking nervous, with the engine running but the cowling off. It was the day of the stall testing and VMAX testing and the pic was taken as he was doing final engine tweeks and checking levels etc - if he hadn't built the plane right, it would have been the last picture there'd have been of him other than the coroners report....

        1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

          Re: Hopefully...

          There are still use cases, but the usual problem is that you have to add on a chunk of time to get from where you want to start from to where you can start from, and similarly at the other end a chunk of time to get from where you can land to where you actually want to be.

          At a previous job, we had a site on the Isle of Wight, and as you describe, getting from the north west to there was either a 3 day trip by other means, or a longish one day trip by light aircraft. For us though, the biggest hassle was the hour and a half drive to get to the airport at our end. And where I work now, they run their own mini airline flying a regular shuttle service around the country (but from a much nearer airport) simply because of the time it saves.

          1. Rob Daglish Bronze badge

            Re: Hopefully...

            Ah yes. I know where you're working. Last contract I was on, one of our PMs used to try and get on the plane each week to get to us as it was such a time saver. We didn't laugh much when he used to get "bumped" for more important people and had to get the train back...

        2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

          Re: Hopefully...

          I knew a chap who had a printing business who had an Auster that he used to get him to/from business meetings - he kept that on after he sold the business

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: Hopefully...

            As a PPL I'm looking at these stories incredulously thinking "British weather". It's never going to fly, that story. I spend so much of my year grounded by the weather and getting in hours when its good. No way could I rely on regular schedules. Did the guy flying from the North of Scotland route down the East coast to avoid high ground under the low cloudbases?

            1. Steven Raith

              Re: Hopefully...

              I could probably go to the storage locker and dig out his meticulous flight logs and check, but I'm not going to for a forum post, arf.

              He was fully instrument rated, and flew all year round - I expect he learned a few tricks with respect to avoiding bad weather.

              Bear in mind he died over five years ago so I can't ask him!

              Steven R

              1. werdsmith Silver badge

                Re: Hopefully...

                Full IR? On a kitplane? Into GA airfields? What was the max demonstrated crosswind for that kitplane?

                No way could you depend on small aircraft for that kind of trip in UK weather.

                1. Steven Raith

                  Re: Hopefully...

                  I don't know, he's been dead for five years and I'm not a pilot so perhaps there's a difference between the terms he used and the terms you're reading into.

                  He flew at night, and navigated through some storms, and around others using instruments and wasn't arrested or penalised by the relevant governing body, imply from that what you will.

                  Christ alive, some people are never happy are they?

  2. I am David Jones
    Trollface

    What’s the big deal?

    I’ve done it in Wii Sports loads of times.

  3. Steve K Silver badge

    Helicopter

    There is a video on Youtube of someone doing this in Rio in 1967 in a Hughes 269 helicopter - about 40 seconds in to this clip.

    https://youtu.be/p_KwNaIRAXU

    Tunnel not as long though!

  4. KBeee Silver badge
    Joke

    Toll

    Hope he had an HGS toll sticker in his windscreen, or he'll be getting a fine through his door in a couple of weeks

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Toll

      Not sure what the rules are over there, but in most states in the US, tolls are based on the number of axles. He should be ok under the argument that he had 0 axles on the road!

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: Toll

        If they charge based on axles, how much would a tank cost?

  5. Chris G Silver badge

    Up for a challenge?

    Is the Eurotunnel busy with all this covid going on?

    1. Annihilator Silver badge

      Re: Up for a challenge?

      I think I saw a documentary about a helicopter that flew into the eurotunnel featuring Tom Cruise. Didn't end well for the pilot, but Tom Cruise was ok. I'd say it was his fault really, he shouted something about red and green lights then threw a stick of chewing gum at it.

      1. TheProf
        Facepalm

        Re: Up for a challenge?

        Is that the film in which he 'rides' the shockwave to safety?

        Of course they all do that in films now. Big explosion, hitch a ride on it. Live to change the laws of physics another day.

        1. Annihilator Silver badge

          Re: Up for a challenge?

          No, pretty sure it was a documentary. A Scientology one maybe?

        2. anothercynic Silver badge

          Re: Up for a challenge?

          That was Mission Impossible (the one that spawned that godawful franchise that's now on instalment seven). The tunnel was meant to be the Channel Tunnel and the train was meant to be a Eurostar, but since that tunnel is two separate tubes (similar to the road tunnels in this stunt) and Eurostar trains are yellow and white, not blue, the continuity in the movie fell down. But there we are.

    2. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Up for a challenge?

      Would tangle in the catenary

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: Up for a challenge?

        They had mysteriously vanished for the occasion.

    3. Eclectic Man Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Up for a challenge?

      This chap was not so sensible:

      https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-58479017

      "A man has been jailed after driving a car down a railway track, causing eight-hour passenger delays.

      Aaron O'Halloran was caught on CCTV driving down the line for half a mile between Duddeston and Aston stations in Birmingham on 9 May.

      Police said the 32-year-old, of Proctor Street in the city, caused damage totalling more than £23,000."

      1. cawfee

        Re: Up for a challenge?

        Very unwise as Aston station is a decent height above road level...

  6. msknight

    Bit of a shame that he took off from inside a tunnel rather than approaching it from the air, though. Now THAT would have been impressive.

    1. Nelbert Noggins
      Trollface

      Guess that wouldn't have also got the record for first take-off from inside a tunnel though.

      Maybe next time could do a loop coming out the first tunnel and then fly through them both full length

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "Guess that wouldn't have also got the record for first take-off from inside a tunnel though."

        Wasn't that done during WWII? ISTR the Germans having at least one place where they flew out from a tunnel in a mountain. Or am I getting confused with some war film or other?

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          If I remember rightly one of the late WWII underground plane factories (Me262?) had a short tunnel you could fly the finished plane out from. The only problem is that a lot of these underground factories never got finished in time - so I don't recall if it ever got used.

          The Swedish airforce used to hide their Saabs underneath road bridges and in tunnels - given that if things kicked off with Russia their airfields weren't going to be there for very long. So surely one of them's taken off from a tunnel, but I'm sure didn't get airborne until they were well out of it, unless the pilot has a death wish.

          North Korea have lots of airbases buried in mountains. But I've no idea if they take off inside or out.

        2. Mike 16 Silver badge

          Mountain tunnel takeoff

          You may be thinking of the Night on Bald Mountain segment of Fantasia

      2. Julz

        Hum,

        Swiss air force...

  7. b0llchit Silver badge
    Coat

    Speeding

    And he did not get a speeding ticket? Maybe the 245 km/h was too much for the radar detector?

    1. gerdesj Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: Speeding

      "Maybe the 245 km/h was too much for the radar detector?"

      Finding the number plate would be tricky.

      1. stiine Silver badge

        Re: Speeding

        Its painted on the propellor blade...

    2. seven of five

      Re: Speeding

      Unfortunetaly, it is not. Friend of mine has a speeding ticket for going 272 on his GSX-R.

      Germany, so not that much a problem.

    3. AnonEMusk Noel

      Re: Speeding

      I believe he would need to go a tad faster to beat a speed camera. I recall it has been done but cannot recall the actual speed. That's my half an anecdote i guess

      1. Remy Redert

        Re: Speeding

        Mythbusters tested this with a speeding camera in the US and managed to beat it at 245 mph, considerably faster than this airplane. In their earlier testing they got up to ~160mph which is was not fast enough to beat the camera, so for their second take they brought out a jet engine powered car.

  8. Dwarf Silver badge

    They need a new strapline. How about

    Red Bull gives you balls.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Oh no.

      He had those before.

      What I would like to know, though, is what exactly is his cocaine budget ? It's funny how I have no problem imagining Al Pacino pulling a stunt like that.

  9. TVC

    My best through the Blackwall Tunnel was

    My best through the Blackwall Tunnel was about 105 on my bike, after several beers, when it was socially acceptable to drink. Some of the trip may well have been on the walls or ceiling! Great days.

    1. vogon00

      Re: My best through the Blackwall Tunnel was

      My personal favourite : being a passenger in an AC Cobra (replica) with a '289' V8, accompanied by it's '427' big brother and reaching the Dartford tunnel.

      On the approach, there is one Cobra in each lane, traveling fairly slowly to allow the traffic in front to get well ahead. On entry, the two vehicles overtake eachother repeatedly with plenty of RPM on....

      What an absolutely effing glorious noise, petrol-head heaven!

      In addition to upsetting the people behind us (their problem!), there was a seriously pissed-off lady BMW M3 driver on the way home later...she had been cutting us up for ages trying to get past us at roundabouts, and we tired of this, so the game of 'keeping pace' started...she'd put some more way on, my driver would catch up and so on for a few hundred yards until she was reaching an impressive RPM by the sound of it.....

      This lasted until the driver of the car I was in got bored of the game, changed up out of 2nd gear and, from her POV anyway, disappeared, probably with a red tinge about us..

      This, of course, happened ages ago as it's all polite and boring these days:-)

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: My best through the Blackwall Tunnel was

        When I owned a Scottish hot hatch* I had problems with warm hatches trying to race.

        Best was when I hit first gear powerband at same time they hit first gear red line.

        * unfortunately not the biggest engine.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: My best through the Blackwall Tunnel was

          "Scottish hot hatch"?

          Hillman Imp is no hatchback!

          1. MJI Silver badge

            Re: My best through the Blackwall Tunnel was

            Think newer.

            Think bigger engines.

            Think world rally championship.

            Think short stroke high revving pushrod lumps.

            1. werdsmith Silver badge

              Re: My best through the Blackwall Tunnel was

              Nothing Scottish comes to mind at all.

              1. MJI Silver badge

                Re: My best through the Blackwall Tunnel was

                Need to read more

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chrysler_Sunbeam

                1. werdsmith Silver badge

                  Re: My best through the Blackwall Tunnel was

                  Ahh, Lotus. Norfolk.

    2. AdamWill

      Re: My best through the Blackwall Tunnel was

      Bloody hell, 105? I'll have two of whatever you were drinking to pedal that fast...

  10. Imhotep Silver badge

    Some people have threaded the Gateway Arch in St Louis. IIRC, at least one flight simulator removed the ability to do that in the program.

    The saddest was the skydiver who landed on the arch and was then apparently going to jump from there to the ground. The wind caught his chute and he was dragged over the side to his death. His wife said he landed there by accident.

    This was in the early morning and the few bystanders said there was someone on hand filming the stunt.

    For a while there was a shiny streak on the leg of the arch marking the poor guy's path down.

    (The Gateway Arch is 600 ft-192 m tall)

  11. HildyJ Silver badge
    Devil

    Boring Tunnel

    Forget Teslas.

    This is the commute of the future.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: Boring Tunnel

      The problem of commuting by tunnel boring machine is that if your commute is more than say 20m - then it's going to take several hours. And that's only if the geology is in your favour.

      Not to mention that your fuel consumption is lower than your concrete consumption...

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: Boring Tunnel

        Hmm

        Elon "What would Gerry do?"

        "I know."

        Announces the BORING company personal transport the Mole.

  12. Eclectic Man Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Wings

    An RAF Wing Commander I once had as a client told me a story of an Air Commodore who, on a training flight with a young pilot, on a whim, decided to fly the Chipmunk light aircraft through a hanger. When he emerged he was busted to Pilot Officer.

    1. KBeee Silver badge

      Re: Wings

      I still prefer the story of Taffy Holders accidental flight in an EE Lightning

      1. Peter Mount

        Re: Wings

        Taffy Holden but I'd agree with you I'd prefer that one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4d7VKvG1z0&ab_channel=TheHistoryGuy%3AHistoryDeservestoBeRemembered

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Wings

      Back when the USMC ran operations at the old blimp base at Santa Ana, Calif., the door on each end of the blimp hangers were not permitted to be fully open on both ends. The reason was that pilots often saw it as a challenge to fly through them.

      On the bright side... none ever crashed into the hangers. I did see an A-4 fly through one as the doors were wide open for some reason on both ends

      The Goodyear blimp used to use the hangers for maintenance and was dwartfed by those hangers (they still stand).

    3. The commentard formerly known as Mister_C
      Facepalm

      Re: Wings

      Similar, but slightly different as it involves four wheels (and - spoiler alert - some flight)

      Mister_C senior told me a story about two duty-free sales reps who had enjoyed the hospitality of the chief steward on board a docked ship. They decided that a race back to the hotel would be fun.

      The first set off to drive round the 400 yards long dock shed.

      The second thought he'd take a short cut through the shed - drove in though the dock-side door and out through the lorry loading door on the opposite side. He'd forgotten about the loading platform and achieved 4 feet of altitude very briefly before gravity booked him a meeting with a tow truck and the transport manager...

  13. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    He has a pair

    As Cracked.Com would note, the airplane should have struggled to get airborne with Costa's extra, extra large pair. That is actually some very skilled flying.

  14. martinusher Silver badge

    I suspect there's some software involved

    This stunt might be a bit tricky for a human to carry off because our slow reaction time would dominate any visual feedback we had from the tunnel sides and floor. A flight control system that could continuously measure the distance to the tunnel walls and floor linked to a responsive aircraft would have no problem with this task. So my money's on the pilot having a bit of help.

    1. stiine Silver badge

      Re: I suspect there's some software involved

      Bah. Just spend some time watching crop dusters. They dodge trees, power poles, barns, etc, while flying at speed just above the crops.

      1. Eclectic Man Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: I suspect there's some software involved

        stiin: "They dodge trees, power poles, barns, etc, while flying at speed just above the crops."

        Yup, crop dusting is for pilots who are scared of heights.

    2. Eclectic Man Silver badge

      Re: I suspect there's some software involved

      I suspect grant the pilot just needs to concentrate on the light at the end of the tunnel and fly towards that. They were straight tunnels, so as there would be zero crosswind, once you're in the centre you don't need to monitor your wingtips, just concentrate on flying straight.*

      *Harder that it sounds, from my personal experience of 'open air' flying, so congrats to the pilot for keeping it all in one piece.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: I suspect there's some software involved

      "This stunt might be a bit tricky for a human to carry off because our slow reaction time would dominate any visual feedback we had from the tunnel sides and floor."

      You could say the same about car drivers on normal two lane roads with a 60mph speed limit. That's a closing speed of 120mph against oncoming traffic mere feet away with just a white painted line, possibly faded, to offer guidance. And yet people do that every day without even thinking about and mostly don't have accidents.

    4. John Sturdy
      Boffin

      Re: I suspect there's some software involved

      Might there be some aerodynamic effects that will help (along the lines of ground effect helping to keep the aircraft off the road surface, but applying sideways)?

  15. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    ISTR

    ISTR recalling seeing similar in many Amiga demos :-)

  16. Denarius Silver badge

    speaking of Ekronoplanes lately

    so how did ground effect alter characteristics of plane. Just asking

    1. Martin Gregorie

      Re: speaking of Ekronoplanes lately

      so how did ground effect alter characteristics of plane.

      Mostly by reduced drag if you're down in ground effect, which is when you're less that half your wingspan above the ground.

      A lot of glider pilots used to use ground effect as a form of competition finish if the fields next to the airfield were flat.

      I've done it in an SZD Junior (single seat training glider) at the end of a day's flying. We'd been launching from the far end of our airfield from the hangar and clubhouse, so at the end of the day i offered to fly the Junior home. I took a winch launch, and flew a normal circuit as if I was going to land where I'd taken off, but instead left the airbrakes shut and flew the approach at 70 rather than 55 kts, flattening out at 15-20 feet. I stayed at that height for 680m along the main runway. At that point I'd only lost 10 kts of airspeed, popped the airbrakes and touched down 200m further on, rolling to a stop near the hangar.

      A Junior has a claimed glide ratio of 36:1 at 45 kts, so at typical flying height it would have lost just over 60 feet in flying the same distance at 45 kts, or 150ft at 70kts: Juniors are draggy little beasts and airframe drag increases as the square of the flying speed.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Accurate flying

    In the book Black Hawk Down, it mentions that when some of the Little Bird helicopters landed the rotor tips were clipping the buildings on both sides of them.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Accurate flying

      There's a book called 'Chicken Hawk', written by a chopper pilot from 1st Cavalry division about his service in Vietnam. I use the word chopper pilot advisedly. He was once trying to evacuate some troops, who were unable to cut a landing zone for him. So he decided that his rotor blades could do perfectly good service as hedge trimmers. Found a spot with thin tree cover and sort of lopped the tops off several of them, so he had space to get down. Try doing that with a horse...

      1. JDPower666 Bronze badge

        Re: Accurate flying

        I don't think a horse could fly a helicopter.

  18. Marty McFly Silver badge
    Pint

    For a proper speed record...

    ...a return run down the same course within the hour is required.

    Was cool. Would have been more cool to fly out, do the roll & turn, and then fly back through the two tunnels.

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