Born in Spittal on the Drau in Austria on October 30, 1984 it was clear that Thomas Morganstern would come grow up with the snow in his childhood. Coming from a very sporty family, he was encouraged to try different sports from a young age, but it was not until he was nine years old that he encountered a ski jumping slope for the first time.
”Ski jumping fascinated me, so I trained intensively to become better and to meet the dream of one day becoming an Olympic gold medallist,” he recalls.
21 years later, Morganstern looks back on a career in which he managed to achieve several gold medals at the Olympic Games, who World Championship titles, overall World Cups, and triumphed at the prestigious four-man dances. Only five people can claim to have won all four big ski jumping competitions, and Morganstern is understandably proud of his achievements.
Ski jumping to aviation
But ski jumping isn’t the only passion in Morganstern’s life. “Even during my ski jumping career, I devoted myself enthusiastically to aviation,” he explains. “The enthusiasm for flying was awakened as part of a photoshoot, during which I was able to fly in an Alpha Jet with Flying Bulls’ chief pilot. Filled with desire to get behind the wheel, I began flying in 2008.
“During the course of my time as a skier, I also took advantage of numerous flights sitting next to Flying Bulls’ helicopter chief pilot Siegfried Schwarz aboard the BO-105 and EC-135 – and I fell in love with helicopters. In 2012 I learned to fly helicopters.”
Since gaining a private pilot’s license in helicopters, Morganstern regularly flies Helina, his Robinson R44 Raven II, and competes in Helicopter sports competitions with the Heliteam Austria. Indeed, in 2015, he was able to take the junior world title as a rookie (less than 250 flight hours) at the Helicopter World Championships in Zielona Gora (POL), and only a few months later flew his way to the bronze medal with co-pilot Stefan Seer at the World Air Games in Dubai (UAE).
Helicopter World Cup
At the start of 2017 the FAI Helicopter World Cup was launched. In the Fender and Slalom competitions, seven of the best riders in Europe are competing for a World Cup victory, including Morgenstern.
“So far we can be satisfied with our performances - especially third place in the Fender competition at the first World Cup stop in Wycombe (GBR) which was a great success,” he reflects. “In contrast to our competition we still lack the experience as a team but we are satisfied with our development and will continue to try to surprise the more experienced crews.
Morganstern is especially looking forward to the World Cup in Spitzerberg, Austria (September 8-10) and hopes many people will come to watch. “The new head-to-head format makes the competitions equally exciting for spectators and pilots.”
It is his hope that his sport will continue to develop well over the coming years, and he sees a lot of potential in his flying skills that he believes can keep the people happy.
“Since the end of 2016 I have also been training as a professional helicopter pilot,” he adds. “I expect to complete that training in autumn 2017.
Indeed, Morganstern has obtained a type rating for the Bell-47T, lovingly nicknamed “Grandma Bell” and is a proud member of the Flying Bulls, supporting the fleet in their various appearances.
More information from: www.thomasmorgenstern.com and www.flyingbulls.com