Klaus Holighaus was born in Eibelshausen, Germany. He started his career in gliding when he was an engineering student at the University of Darmstadt, where he was a member of its Akaflieg. Fellow students Gerhard Waibel and Wolf Lemke had already developed the D-36 glider and he contributed to its refinement. He joined Schempp-Hirth as an employee in 1965. He became Chief Executive in 1972 and from 1977 Holighaus was the sole owner of the business. He designed most of the company's products, beginning with the Cirrus until the Nimbus-4.
Holighaus flew in every German National Championship from 1968, winning six times in the Open Class. He became European Champion three times and finished in the top rankings of the nine World Championships in which he competed. He held 16 World Records in various categories.
Holighaus was killed in the area of St. Gotthard when flying in the Alps from Samedan, Switzerland. The wreckage was not discovered for two days. The cause of the accident is not clear, but a possible factor was the deteriorating weather on the day and he may have unsuccessfully tried to cross a mountain pass. He had logged 8,168 hours in gliders.
He married Brigitte. His son, Tilo, continues the Schempp-Hirth business.
- Lebenslauf von Holighaus auf der Homepage der Firma Schempp-Hirth
- Eintrag über Holighaus auf Munzinger
- "Flugsport (Segelfliegen - Europameisterschaften)" (in German). sport-komplett.de. Retrieved 2010-12-13.
- Übersicht der Weltrekorde auf der Homepage der Fédération Aéronautique Internationale
- "Gestorben: Klaus Holighaus". Der Spiegel reference=13684472 33: 176. 1994.
-  (PDF; 4,4 MB) Offizieller Unfallbericht
- "Klaus Holighaus". European Gliding News. Retrieved 30 July 2013.
Klaus Holighaus biography, Schempp-Hirth website Retrieved: 15 March 2008