Anna Gasser outside Hangar-7
© Mirja Geh
Paper Planes

Meet the judges picking the next Red Bull Paper Wings Aerobatics champion

Making the call in the Aerobatics category of the paper plane world championships are four celebrity judges who are best known for high-flying professions of their own.
Written by Trish Medalen
4 min readPublished on
Of the three categories at the World Final, Distance and Airtime are decided strictly by the numbers – making Aerobatics the only competition that requires pilots to face a judging panel. When the national Aerobatic finalists take centre stage in Salzburg’s Hangar-7 with just 60 seconds to put on a dazzling show, the eagle-eyed judges they’ll need to impress are record-setting pilot Dario Costa, two-time Olympic Snowboard Big Air winner Anna Gasser, BMX legend Senad Grosic and science editor Jennifer Leman.

Dario Costa

Dario Costa has flown with the Flying Bulls aerobatic team, was the first Italian pilot to win a race in the Red Bull Air Race Challenger Class, has taught acrobatic flying and was contest director for the 26th World Aerobatic Championships. The feat that made him a household name, however, was his 2021 ‘Tunnel Pass’ – a record-setting flight through two tight auto tunnels that wrote a new page in aviation history. In short, the expertise he brings to judging Aerobatics at the World Final is comprehensive.
Italy's Dario Costa successfully completes his record-setting Tunnel Pass flight near Istanbul, Turkey
Italy's Dario Costa completes record-setting Tunnel Pass near Istanbul
“This is an incredibly cool aviation event and reminds me of the early days when I was playing with small paper planes, dreaming of flying,” Costa says. “This event takes everyone back to childhood, and this is a rare and amazing thing we should not underestimate.”
When asked what he’ll be looking for, he answers, “Creativity. That is key for me, that is what I love about aerobatics, both with paper planes and with real aeroplanes. I am really looking forward to it.”

Anna Gasser

Austria’s Gasser isn’t a pilot, but when it comes to aerial innovation, she’s definitely a pro. In 2013, the Austrian snowboarder took her place as the shining star in a new generation of female freestylers when she became the first woman to complete a Cab Double Cork 900. Fast-forward and she has raised the bar even more with women’s firsts including the Cab Triple Underflip and the Cab Double Cork 1260, also accumulating top honours including her back-to-back Olympic golds in Big Air.
Anna Gasser performs at the Laax Open in Laax, Switzerland on January 14, 2022.
Anna Gasser attacks the Slopestyle course
For Gasser, too, the event hearkens back to happy childhood days. “Red Bull Paper Wings looks like so much fun! Didn’t we all build paper planes when we were kids? It’s something everyone can relate to,” she says. “When it comes to the Aerobatics competition, I can’t wait to see what the students come up with. It’s all about creativity, and I’m sure it will be not easy to judge. Surprise me and blow my mind!”

Senad Grosic

Senad Grosic does his style of 'aerobatics' with a bike: the BMX rider, who made his home in Austria, isn't afraid to take on the biggest jumps and the hardest tricks. Among many accolades, Grosic has won the Austrian King of Dirt and Red Bull Dirt Ride championships, but he also travels the world to share his inspiration and skills with the next generation. He'll be looking for eye-popping innovation as he judges the World Final and he'll even provide some of his own when he entertains spectators with a BMX demo.
Senad Grosic
Senad Grosic

Jennifer Leman

Jennifer Leman's connection with flying is as a journalist. As news editor and science journalist at the renowned publication Popular Mechanics, she covers stories about space and science for both digital and print. Leman has written about ambitious skydiving projects like Red Bull Stratos, as well as a mission to record the sounds of Mars, and she's even ranked all the moons in the solar system. In addition to serving as a World Final judge, she's hosting an exclusive session about the aerobatics of flight for the participants.
Pictured at the Red Bull Paper Wings World Final
Jennifer Leman
You can find out who wows the judges and keep up with all the results from the World Final at www.redbullpaperwings.com.