Holighaus began as a child flying model airplanes at the airfield in Hirzenhain. As a 19 year old he placed there in 1959 set a world record for continuous flight for a model. After graduation Holighaus began to study mechanical engineering at the Technical University in Darmstadt. There he joined the Academic Flying Group, where he was involved among other things, the construction of the D -36.
After graduating Holighaus received by the personal intervention of Martin Schempp a job with the aircraft manufacturer Schempp- Hirth, where he was responsible for the development of the glider pattern Cirrus, Standard Cirrus, Janus, Discus, Duo Discus, Ventus and Nimbus.
Besides his work as a designer Holighaus was even gliders. He participated in various national and international championships, including 1981, he was runner-up and won in 1982, 1986 and 1988, the European Championships in the open class. He also held several gliding world records. On 9 August 1994 Holighaus rebounded with his Nimbus -4M on a rock wall of Rheinwaldhorn, whereby he suffered fatal injuries.
After his death in his honor in Kirchheim unter Teck, a street in Cluj - Holighaus street renamed.