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. 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 and that meant leaving Germany. 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.
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 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.
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 he would 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.
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 of America and the Tour Lilienthal held in Berlin to celebrate 100 years of flight.
Among his other achievements: a two seater Distance World Record set on 27 January 1975; a single seater speed World Record of 100 kilometres triangle of 195.3 kilometres per hour 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 on 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 has competed here in Australia and in countries including Germany, France, the United States, South Africa, Japan and New Zealand. Ingo and Judy are both foundation members of the Southern Riverina Gliding Club formed in December 2008. It 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”.
In his gliding career Ingo has accumulated almost 36,000 hours of flying and 31,000 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.
The Australian Aviation Hall of Fame proudly inducts Ingo Renner OAM.