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England's Top Paraglider

Meet Nicky Moss – British Team Paraglider Pilot
I was brought up on a farm & have always been an outdoors person. I enjoyed horseriding, rockclimbing & skiing & whist in the Alps had seen paragliders & wondered what it would be like.
After all how many people can say that they can fly!
It was through the paragliding school that I met my boyfriend, Mark & together we explored the possibilities of moving abroad.
Fate stepped in when Mark was offered a job near Barcelona. The move meant that I had to give up my career – something that I had worked hard for over the years – but the lure of living in a warm sunny climate ideal for flying was too great.

WSR Caught up with Professional British Team Paraglider Pilot Nicky Moss.

My life literally took off!
Six years ago my feet were firmly planted on the ground often submerged in mud on a rain-soaked building site as I pursued my career as a Chartered Quantity Surveyor.
It was the classic scenario of ‘going through a tough time’ that brought me & paragliding together.
I had moved to Edinburgh for my job and had gone through a relationship break-up. Edinburgh is a great city but I didn’t know a soul and it was hard. I was living in hotels and spending too much time in bars so I followed the advice of the agony-aunts & joined a club. This was ParapentEcosse the Edinburgh paragliding school.

Prior to our move I had entered my first competition – a national championships in central Spain. I was alone, very inexperienced and flying a slow, safe beginners wing, but I had begun to feel a competitive streak emerge in me. The competition was a complete disaster in terms of results – I came last. I was very demoralized by the attitudes of a number of people I met who had made me very unwelcome and presumptuous that I felt I could compete with my negligible experience.
However, others went out of their way to be supportive and helped me to make the most of the learning experience I had thrown myself in to.

I began to compete at a novice level in 2002, After the move to Spain I entered the Catalan league and became Catalan female Champion in 2003 & 2004. I traveled to Australia and became Australian Female Champion and won the Himalayan Open in India. Competing against pilots in International championships helped me to gain experience – both good & bad – very quickly.
I believe that my way to the top of my sport is through mental training and belief. This is starting to reflect in my improving results.

Most ‘adventure sport’ is seen as a predominately male environment and paragliding is no exception. In international competition there are often 10-15 female pilots competing with 100+men. We all fly the same tasks and are ranked according to our overall results.
After this I was very unwilling to compete again, but back home soon realised that I had learnt so much in those short flights with all the hullabaloo of competition going on around me. Much more than when aimlessly soaring round on uncrowded hills at home.
I am currently ranked the #1 British Female in the world rankings and an aiming to improve my ranking to a top 10 position in 2006.

As my competition results have improved, so have the disappointments & frustrations for those times when things didn’t go to plan.

My first competition as a member of the British Team was in the European Championships in Greece, I placed 10th & came away elated. Early this year I competed in the world Championships in Brasil and as a consequence of a tropical virus flew poorly and placed 26th, A very disappointing result, but one which has taught me valuable lessons which I can use to help me prepare next time. Paragliding is not a particularly physical sport but mentally it can be very challenging.

We deal with an invisible medium, air, and the consequences of misreading conditions or failing to recover from unexpected turbulence can at worst be fatal.

During the past year I have been working hard on my mental approach and developing new skills in terms of mental toughness, motivation, focus and confidence. I have been helped immensely by British athlete, Steve Ward, who runs a company called Maximum Potential.

One of Nicky's main sponsors is Juice Plus+
It is the way that things are in paragliding and realistically there is little reason why women & men cannot compete equally. Some claim that we are not as focused or driven as the men and that our ‘fear threshold’ is lower but personally I think it is largely a question of numbers. I have seen experienced guys collapse in a quivering heap on the ground after an incident in exactly the same was as I have done. When as many women as men compete the results will be evenly balanced.

We move through the skies under the power of the wind & weather. We don’t use mechanical means and we can travel to the clouds & back and cover 100’s of kilometers in a single flight. We play with the air currents and soar with the eagles – its not a question of whether we are male or female or what the colour of our skin is….it’s all down to belief and finding out who we are and about learning and working hard at that.

Fundamentally, we are all doing something that is completely alien to human existence…we fly.


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