Ingo and Judy Renner at the Southern Riverina Gliding Club in February 2021.
I had the honour and pleasure of meeting Ingo several time over the years. His achievements as a competition glider pilot and four-time world champion are world renowned, and he has instructed hundreds of glider pilots both in Europe and Australia.
He will be sadly missed by glider pilots all over Australia, many of whom regularly bring up Ingo’s name whenever I meet them. Wherever Australian glider pilots congregate, you will always hear anecdotes about Ingo. ‘Ingo taught me this, said that ….’
His influence will continue into the future, as will the fond memories so many people have of him.
He was an inspiration to generations of glider pilots not only because of his achievements, but also due to his friendly and genuine good nature. Ingo was a gentleman of the highest order.
Below you will find details of Ingo’s life, and memories from some of the pilots and other people who knew him.
Ingo Renner, fouur times World Gliding Champion and Brad Edwards World Gliding Champion (Uvalde 1991 15M) at West Wyalong, Australia in November 2013. You can see the video of their meeting below when Brad talks to Ingo about the secret to success in gliding.
The Secret to Success in Gliding - video with Ingo Renner and Brad Edwards 2013.
My competition flying began when Ingo was absolutely at the top of his game. He had won two of his four world titles, and his performance was truly at an entirely different level to all of those around him. My first two nationals were at Benalla and Tocumwal, right in the midst of Ingo’s home turf, and if you finished within an hour of his time you had cause to feel pretty pleased with yourself!
I was fresh, young and keen, and if I ever found myself within sight of Ingo whilst on task, I would do my utmost to watch what he was doing, and to try to understand his technique and thought process. His glider, the Discus A with the “XX” on the tail, was flown so distinctively that it was quite easy to pick in the sky. He always flew so positively, his cruise, and every movement he made to recenter a thermal or to find better lift, was quite direct. It was like the nose was always down and going somewhere, like a bloodhound following a scent. He had an uncanny ability to know both where to find the best climbs, and whether the thermal he was approaching was going to be good enough to stop in and use. Later on, after many years, we figured out that he had a photographic memory for where all the thermal hot-spots were. Brad Edwards tells a story of a flight in Queensland when he found a monster climb during a task, I think it was about 16 knots. At the end of the day Ingo came to him to find out EXACTLY where it was. He was storing the information away for another time
Ingo also took a huge interest in the geological structure of the task area and used that information to form a picture in his mind of likely thermal-producing areas. When he was running a training camp for the world comps team, he would often bring out a geological survey map and we would listen to him discussing the possibilities. Even before the last world comps in Benalla he spent much time giving us his thoughts about areas to work near, and those to avoid.
In those early days I was very fortunate that Ingo took some interest in my flying. At that first nationals I flew in Tocumwal, he took me aside one day after I had a poor day result and assured me that I was doing the right thing, working hard to improve and ignoring the behaviour of the crowd who only wanted to follow one another. I was really chuffed to think that the master had even noticed me! In later days I had the pleasure of spending more time with him, both in the air and on the ground. We discussed techniques, the changes in technology in the cockpit, and I even got to enjoy his wicked sense of humour. Many pilots asked Ingo about particular aspects of competition flying, and some of them were disappointed in the reply they heard. Two things were happening here… One was that much of Ingo’s flying was so intuitive (he had amassed tens of thousands of hours in the air) that he really did find it difficult to explain what he was doing, and secondly, he always told things as he saw them, in a very simple fashion. But if you listened very carefully to what he was actually saying, the answer was there in front of you.
Many pilots who have attended any coaching sessions that I have helped with will know that I use Ingo as an example to explain many of our current techniques. Flying with him and watching him had such a huge influence on all the pilots who had that opportunity. He stood head and shoulders above all of us for such a long period of time. We lost count of the days that we dragged ourselves back to the airfield, only to see “XX” already tied down and washed, with Ingo’s crew long departed. I think it was my first nationals in Benalla where I landed out one day after a long, slow struggle. I retired to a local pub to wait for my crew to appear. After some hours they arrived and we wandered out of the pub and turned our eyes skyward, only to see “XX” still airborne and on his way home! I was dumbfounded. There was still so much to learn.
But he was such a humble man, almost to a fault. With his undoubted success he had so much to be proud of, but there was never a word of self-praise came from his mouth. He always said he was “lucky”. After some time, we all noticed that his luck seemed to follow him very closely for many, many years. He was a magician.
It was during the period of preparation for Benalla that I had one of my loveliest moments with Ingo. He wanted to fly with all of us in the old Caproni, an Italian side-by-side two seat glider. My turn came and it was quite a nice day. I think we flew well out to the south-west of Tocumwal to Bendigo. I found the old Caproni really challenging. It had zero feel of what the air was doing, was quite poorly coordinated, and the flap control worked in reverse… the lever was moved forward to apply a positive flap setting. Once early in the flight I had to ask Ingo to help find a thermal! I knew it was nearby, but I just couldn’t figure out where it was! However, after some hours in the air I began to get the hang of it. I knew that Ingo was happy with my efforts, as at one point I wondered why he was leaning my way so much in the cockpit… He had fallen asleep on my shoulder!
Ingo was a legend, in every sense of the word. Our juniors adopted him and used his status to help describe any impossible event that they could fabricate. He always managed time to attend their events and took great joy in watching the next generation progress. Ingo was naturally gifted, but also worked extremely hard to ensure his position as the best pilot in the world, on four occasions, quite a remarkable feat.
The gliding world will be a different place without him, and I am truly fortunate to have known him personally, and to have flown alongside this great man. My deepest sympathy and condolences go out to his wife Judy, and to all his family and very, very many friends.
It was truly a sad day when we lost Ingo Renner. Ingo’s contribution to Australian gliding has been enormous, directly and indirectly. His example and approach to gliding are ideals that many of us strive to emulate.
As a young boy, I watched and dreamed of being able to fly like lingo. During the late 1970s and ‘80s, Ingo was at his peak and was clearly on another level to the rest of us. The few times I saw him in the air, I couldn’t believe how fast he climbed through the pack and disappeared into the distance.
As I watched and learned, I slowly started to improve and still remember the few words he said, ‘You must fly every day, even on the bad days. You must go to all the turn points before the competition starts.’ On the final day at the World Championships at Uvalde, he said, ‘Don’t change anything, Brad.’
I slowly began to read between the lines and understand what Ingo was really trying to say – that you must fly as much as you can and be incredibly current, and you must know where all the good thermal sources in the contest area are.
In the early 1980s we both flew in a nationals competition at Benalla. One day I climbed at 16kt average for the thermal. Afterwards Ingo came to me and wanted to know exactly where I found the thermal. It was then that I realised how Ingo approached his flights.
For me, Ingo was the greatest contest pilot ever. He always flew the contest on his own and never became tied up in the gaggles or played the start gate game. He flew with only basic instruments and relied on his skill and incredible memory to navigate the fastest way around the task. This is what most of us can only aspire to do.
Ingo my friend will remain in our hearts forever.
INGO RENNER BIOGRAPHY
Ingo Renner is hailed by many as Australia’s greatest exponent of gliding, winning four World Championship titles, numerous national and international titles and training hundreds of glider pilots in a career which has spanned more than 50 years. He was born in the village of Hude near Bremen in Germany on 1 June 1940. As a small boy, he was fascinated when watching models being flown and learnt how to make his own model gliders. At the age of 15 he was legally old enough to learn to glide and started taking lessons.
Ingo and Judy Renner as Ingo prepares to fly the Discus at Tocumwal.
He then gained his gliding licence and his club nominated him to become an instructor. After finishing his education, Ingo Renner worked as a ship builder, but he wanted to see the world. In July 1967 he arrived in Australia as a skilled worker at the Evans Deakin Shipyard in Brisbane. Not long after his arrival in Queensland, he convinced his supervisor to drive him to Oakey to visit the Darling Downs Soaring Club, now at Jondaryan. He was taken on a check flight and made such an impression that he was granted full instructor rating the following week.
This photo was taken on 31 December 2018, when flew with Ingo while on a camping trip of Geelong Gliding Club. James Wang
He was in demand as an instructor and would travel from Brisbane to Oakey each weekend, driven there by his friends, as he did not own a car. In fact, Ingo owned his first glider in Australia, a wooden framed Schneider Kingfisher, before he had his own car. He spent three years as an instructor at the Darling Downs club. It was during this time he met and became friends with fellow glider pilot Bill Riley, who offered to provide him with a glider to compete in the 1969/1970 season National Championships being held at Narromine. Ingo came second. It was while travelling back from Bacchus March in Victoria to collect the glider that, at Riley’s suggestion, Ingo stopped at Tocumwal to check its suitability as a gliding site. Riley had the idea of starting a gliding school in Tocumwal and asked Ingo to join him as the Chief Flying Instructor.
Ingo with Lumpy Patterson February 2021
In 1970 he moved to Tocumwal and began work at the newly established Sportavia Soaring Centre. For the next 36 years, Ingo Renner would instruct at Sportavia over the Australian summer months and then work as an instructor for the Oerlinghausen Gliding School in Germany for the northern hemisphere summers. He continued this until 2006 when he officially retired at the age of 65. He averaged around 1,000 gliding hours each year and this meant more time in the cockpit to develop his skills. The results showed in his performances at competitions.
Ingo was still instructing and sending pilots solo April 2021
In 1971 he became an Australian citizen and went on to represent his new country at several World Championships. His first win was in the Standard Class at the World Championship at Rayskala, Finland, in 1976. He followed this with three consecutive wins in the Open Class at the World Championships at Hobbs, New Mexico in 1983, at Rieti, Italy in 1985, and at Benalla, Australia in 1987. Other wins include 19 Australian National Gliding Championships, the Open Class Austraglide at Benalla in 1984, the Bremen Regional competition in Germany, the Queensland State competition (twice), the Smirnoff Derby and Hitachi Masters of Soaring in the United States and the Tour Lilienthal held in Berlin to celebrate 100 years of flight. Among his other achievements are a two seater Distance World Record set on 27 January 1975; a single seater speed World Record, flying a 100 kilometre triangle at 195.3 kph set on 14 December 1982.
The latter earned him inclusion in the Guinness Book of World Records. He has held many Australian gliding records. He has also coached the Australian Team for world competitions, helped the Japanese organise and run their very first international gliding contest at Hokkaido and coached many pilots for international competitions both here and overseas. His wife Judy has crewed for him at many of the events in which he competed here in Australia and in countries including Germany, France, the United States, South Africa, Japan and New Zealand.
Ingo and Judy were both foundation members of the Southern Riverina Gliding Club formed in December 2008. The club operates from the Tocumwal Aerodrome and attracts a large number of trainee and qualified pilots. In 1988, Ingo Renner was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his service to gliding and in 2000 he received an Australian Sports Medal for “high levels of achievement in international competition flying over a long period”. During his gliding career, Ingo accumulated some 37,000 hours of flying and 32,000 hours instructing trainee glider pilots. He has made a significant contribution to the aviation industry through his professionalism and dedication to the world of gliding.
With fellow World Gliding Championships team member Tony Tabart.
Not only but also ....
Ingo received the Dr. Mervyn Hall Trophy from the GFA as the Australian (Open Class) Champion and the GFA Shield (Team Trophy) each seven times. He also continued to participate in the OLC competition until his later years.
PETER F. SELINGER - Germany
I remember very clearly meeting Ingo during the WGC at Rieti 1985, when he showed and explained to me his competition preparation map. Before the competition started, he explored the area thoroughly and intensively to gain confidence. He searched for and detected all suitable and safe outlanding fields, marked them on his map and put concentric circles around them with suitable altitude numbers for a safe outlanding – remarkable proof of the conscientiousness regarding safety and security in gliding that he practised every day. I think it's worth saving and keeping this knowledge in mind.
One year Ingo came to WA to run a training course. I flew the Beverly club’s DG sitting in the back behind Ingo as I like to view the coach.
We worked on the policy - Ingo flew from the top of the thermal, leaving on track to the next thermal that he then climbes in, at the top of the thermal, I take over and repeat.
Many people say that you do not get much out of Ingo when coaching, but you just needed to ask him questions.
Anyway we were on final glide, and I pointed out the markers back to Beverley. We were above final glide and had plenty of height to make it home safely.
Next thing I know, Ingo started turning in a thermal. So I asked him ‘Why are you turning?’ Hoping to get some technique that I was not aware of.
'I just like thermalling.' was his answer.
Well that was Ingo, he just liked Gliding.
We arrived home and he stayed the night. The next day we went out on the other two seater, my tandem. What a lovely day.
BELOW: In 2015 Ingo and Brad Edwards gave a talk at the Australian Institute of Sport at an event organised by Peter Trotter. Below are four videos of their discussion.
Memories of Ingo
In 1974 Australia was in deep discussion about changing the National Anthem.
The Australian team was flying in Finland and Ingo won the world championships.
The practise for visiting teams is to bring a copy of their anthem for the presentation
if they have a placed pilot and certainly for the 1st place champion.
The Finnish organisers had a band to play the anthem and our team captain did not have
a copy of a tape to play 'God Save the Queen' which was at that time our anthem.
The women of the team put their heads together and sang for the band.
So when Ingo won the World Championships
The band played WALTZING MATILDA
Our move to ensure Ingo was an AUSTRALIAN CHAMPION
How we will miss him.