At the invitation of Red Bull I was allowed to undergo the ultimate adrenalin kick in 2013 – passenger of Air Racer Hannes Arch. The professional pilot who died far too early in a helicopter crash on 8 September 2016. This article is dedicated to the likeable Styrian.
What would you say to a wild roller coaster ride at an altitude of about 2,000 meters? I suffer from fear of heights, but I couldn’t turn down this unique offer. Passenger with Hannes Arch, one of the world’s best aerobatic pilots – sounds cool. It wasn’t until things got serious and I got my parachute put on that I noticed my hands getting wet and my breath getting heavy. With a smile on my face, I entered the cockpit and listened to the instructions of the then 46-year-old pilot. Arch must have noticed that I was tense and tried to calm me down with a few loose phrases. However, with the barf bags to my left I couldn’t quite believe the Air Racer.
Then Arch finally started the 300 hp Extra EA-300L engine. It wobbled in the cockpit and despite helmet and headset the engine noise boosted heavily in the ears. A short time later we took off. The view was wonderful – until suddenly from above became below. Over the headphones a “Everything OK?” sounded and the two-seater turned back into a normal flying position. “Yes, I’m fine,” was my short answer. This is what Arch must have been waiting for. The Styrian sunny boy was already looping the loop. Three-quarters of the manoeuvre was no problem, but then the forces began to take effect: the stomach was curvy, the mouth became dry and the sweating increased rapidly. Once again Arch could be heard over the radio and from the sound of his voice I suspected that at least someone in the cockpit was having fun. A fast roll and an even faster nosedive followed. At 350 km/h I felt on my own body what caused six times the force of gravity in my body. It felt like being run over by a road roller. For the aerobatics layman not too tingling feeling. So I gratefully declined the offer of another flight maneuver.
Safe ground under your feet
The landing approach took place in a slightly inclined position. “So that I can see something,” Arch reassured the increasingly silent author of these lines. After a soft landing, the EA-300L was finally back in front of Hangar 8, a relief for the passenger who wants to record that the barf bags remained empty. The first steps were still a bit difficult for me and it took several minutes before all body functions were up again. Drinking water helped, sitting down as well. Despite this side effect, a feeling of happiness came over me and a smile came over my lips, but this time one from the heart.
Thank you Hannes for making this unique experience possible for me: I’ll remember it as well as you.
Are you an outdoor enthusiast? Click here for further articles!