It started with a dream and ended with pure stoke. High up in the Styrian Alps inAustria, 1900m above sea level, Arch zoomed through a wind park at dizzying speeds and achieved what most would have believed to be impossible.
“When you have a such a wind farm at your front door and fly past it often, it’s no wonder you want to fly through it at some point,” the native Austrian said about his dream.
As a world champion pilot, Arch is used to zooming through massive gates at dangerously fast speeds, however the gates at Red Bull Air Races are inflatable pylons and explode when they’re hit. The worst thing that will happen is the pilot will have a time penalty.
However, as we all know, a solid wind turbine is not going to be what explodes if the pilot accidentally hits one of the 70m-high turbines – nearly three times the size of the Red Bull Air Race gates – at the Tauern Wind Park in Oberzeiring, which is just a few kilometres from where the next Red Bull Air Race is taking place at Spielberg later this month. To successfully manoeuvre through the wind farm Arch needed to turn on a dime and give plenty of room to the wind turbines, but even then, careening along at ridiculous top speeds, the distance is still quite narrow.
“Every second, you have to be perfectly clear in your mind that you have wind turbines in front of you and need to know precisely what you’re going to do next.”
Another factor to think about when slaloming through the world’s highest wind farm: nature. Red Bull Air Race courses are generally flat; and a course in the mountains is, as you can imagine, anything but flat.
“The challenge of this wind park, compared to air races, is it’s in nature. It’s not flat, so you’re going up and down – it’s in the middle of the mountains,” Arch said.
Up and down, twisting and turning – all at 300kph! With so many dangerous factors coming into play, it’s understandable why Hannes Arch is the first pilot to achieve such a crazy aerobatic stunt. It's incredible that this all happened – and you can tell from Arch’s smiling face at the end of the video that he was beyond stoked to finally check this dream off the list.