Hannes Arch: 1967-2016

Hannes-ArchHannes Arch, one of the leading lights in the Red Bull Air Race, tragically died in a helicopter crash on Thursday 8 September 2016. He was 49.

Hannes ran a helicopter flight transport company and had been shuttling supplies to a mountain hut before heading for his home-city airport at Salzburg, Austria at 9pm when the crash happened.

The Red Bull Air Race organisers paid tribute to Hannes, who had been a Red Bull Athlete for 25 years.

“The world mainly knew Hannes as an amazingly successful Red Bull Air Race pilot,” they said. “This was only one of the ways in which his spirit found expression. In younger days he was ranked as one of the world's leading mountaineers and climbers and was one of the first aerobatic paragliders.

“We will miss his warmth, sense of fun and boundless energy.”

Born in Leoben, central Austria, in 1967, Hannes discovered flying at an early age. He took up hang gliding aged 15 alongside his father, then turned to paragliding and was a pioneer acro pilot.

A mountain athlete who liked climbing and Base jumping too, he became a core member of the Red Bull team as a pilot. In the last decade he had flown in the Red Bull Air Race, and had a fanbase around the world.

Talking at the Red Bull Air Race in Abu Dhabi in February 2016 Hannes explained how he had got into flying.

"I started really young. It was hang gliding, I was 15 and with my Dad. It was a big adventure for me for sure.

"Then I got into climbing and mountaineering, and then I really got into paragliding when paragliding got big. I was also involved in developing the new sport of paragliding aerobatics.

"Then I got into Base jumping and skydiving, which is also flying. At that time I didn’t have much money, but the money I did have I invested into powered aerobatics.

“Luckily I won the European Championships in Aerobatics Freestyle, and that was also the qualification to get involved in the Red Bull Air Race."

He won the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in 2008 and was second in 2009 and 2010.

His advice for young and new pilots was simple. “Do what makes you happy,” he said. "It’s really important that you follow your passion, don’t get distracted.

“If you follow that rule, if you really go hard for it, I think anything is possible.

"You are doing what you are want, you are happy, and that’s more or less the rule that I follow. Do what makes you happy."

The FAI extends its sympathy and condolences to Hannes's family and friends, and the wider air sports family of the Red Bull Air Race.