Red Bull Air Race champion dies in crash

Hannes Arch. Photo: Paul Thompson
Hannes Arch. Photo: Paul Thompson

The founder of the Red Bull X-Alps adventure race, Hannes Arch, has been killed in a private helicopter accident in the Austrian mountains. Arch, just shy of 49, was a celebrity in his native Austria and a familiar face on billboards and on television. A noted BASE jumper, he once said: “I’m prepared to take risks, but I’m by no means a ‘risk-taker’.”

Recently Mr Arch, who began his professional career as an alpinist, earned a following of international fans as a successful pilot for the Red Bull Air Race world championship. “We will miss his warmth, sense of fun and boundless energy,” a Red Bull Air Race statement said.

The Red Bull X-Alps race, which takes place every two years, is a 1,000 kilometre race in which athletes must hike or paraglide across the Alps from Salzburg, Austria, through parts of Germany, Switzerland, Italy and France. The finish is in Monaco.

The exact route is normally unveiled in the spring before the race start. The first race was in 2003 and the next event is planned for 2017, with participants only allowed to either hike or fly. Teams consist of one athlete and one official supporter, whose role providing technical advice, mental and nutritional support is said to be almost as demanding. (Feature image: Phil Guest)

READ MORE: Melanie Astles, Red Bull Air Race’s first female pilot