Daniel Ryfa is Sweden's top aerobatic pilot and has claimed European, Nordic and national championships. He's also the most experienced pilot in the Challenger Class of the Red Bull Air Race and delivers enviable consistency, climbing onto the podium in over 70 percent of his races. As the only contender who has been part of the lineup in every season since the debut of the Challenger Cup in 2014, this may be his year to win it all.
Born in Stockholm, Ryfa discovered his passion for aviation as a two-year-old. He began flying gliders at 14 and earned his pilot's license while still 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, and he's a popular pilot in air shows internationally, whether he's 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 took to racing immediately in 2014, clinching second place at the season opener in Abu Dhabi. Three more podiums followed that year, but 2015 was his breakthrough, as he scored his first two wins. He followed up with another strong season including an additional two wins in 2016. In total the Swedish pilot has accumulated 12 race podiums, and he's been in the top three in the overall points every season.
"I always fly to win. I believe my experience has been growing every season, and at every race I learn a lot, gaining even more experience," Ryfa comments. "During 2017 I will focus on flying more precisely and gain as many podiums I can."