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Hannes Arch may be one of the most successful pilots in Red Bull Air Race history, but he knows how to stay grounded. For this Austrian, spending time in nature – and giving back to help others – is key.
When Hannes Arch needs to re-connect with himself, he looks to the environment that has nurtured him ever since he was a child: the mountains. A natural paradise studded with Alpine peaks, the Austrian pilot’s native Styria is renowned for inspiring independent thinkers and bold personalities – from star athletes to profound writers, and from innovators in business to a movie star who became the governor of California. In Arch, Styria has produced a man with an endless thirst for progression, whether he is conquering a new mountain or out-flying his opponents in the #redbullairraceworldchampionship.
“I’m not looking for a challenge. I think life is a challenge, and I love it,” says the team Hannes Arch Racing 22 pilot, who has finished on the overall podium for the past five consecutive seasons including a World Championship title in 2008. “Going to the mountains, whether ski-touring or ice climbing, is not only training for me. It also helps me to come down and find myself again. This makes me strong. If you know your weaknesses, if you know your strengths, then you can face every challenge in this life.'
It’s little wonder that Arch feels at home among some of the world’s most spectacular summits: at age 19, long before he ever took the controls of a raceplane, the Austrian was ranked among the world’s best mountaineers; and Arch and Ueli Gegenschatz became the first BASE jumpers to conquer the north face of the notorious Eiger mountain and the north face of the Matterhorn. Credited as one of the first acrobatic paraglider pilots, Arch, now 48, was also a driving force behind the grueling paragliding/foot race known as Red Bull X-Alps.
These days Arch, whose philosophy is “respect, accept and always stay grounded,” is helping others to deal with some of the most difficult challenges imaginable in a world far from Styria. Ever since the #racing off-season, he’s been making trips to Nepal in order to aid the victims of last year’s devastating earthquakes. For an organization called SOS Nepal, he flies relief supplies to people in the hard-to-access mountain region.
“The Nepal project – it’s not about money, it’s not about reputation, it’s not about my sport, my profession,” explains Arch, a longtime helicopter pilot who made a special trip in recent months just to earn his Nepalese flying credentials. “First of all, I can help. Second, I can give back a little bit, and I can combine it with my passion for flying. You’re really close to the problems there. You’re close to the people. You experience the other side of life. And people are always smiling down there. That’s something wonderful.”
Currently at third place in the 2016 World Championship standings, Arch’s next challenge in the ultimate motorsport series in the sky is coming up on 4-5 June, when the Red Bull Air Race makes its return to Chiba, Japan for the third stop of the eight-race season. For the latest news and tickets to all the races, visit www.redbullairrace.com.
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