Britain’s top woman paraglider told today how she cheated death after two huge Australian eagles attacked her 8,200 feet above the Outback.
Nicky Moss, 38, said she thought “Why me?” when the eagles came screeching out of the sky and began shredding the wing of her paraglider over New South Wales this week.
She spun out of control and into a terrifying freefall for 1600 feet when one of the eagles became entangled in the lines suspending her beneath the glider’s wing, causing it to collapse and sending them diving toward earth before it managed to free it itself.
The wedge-tailed eagles are Australia’s largest bird of prey and are among the world’s biggest eagles. They swoop upon sheep and have wing spans of more than 7 1/2 feet.
Ms Moss, who was training with the British team for the World Paragliding Championships, to be held in Australia, said the first she knew of the eagles was when she heard a screeching sound from behind. Until then she had been soaring on air currents above the border area of New South Wales and Queensland.
“I looked around and couldn’t see anything, and then the next moment the top surface of my wing deformed as an eagle flew straight into the top of me.
“It quite possibly ripped the canopy and then wheeled around and continued to have other goes for quite a long period of time,” Ms Moss said.
“Another eagle actually came in and joined it. It was a pair of them. I was getting bombarded by wedge-tailed eagles. They tore my glider. There were quite big rips in it from their talons.
“At one point one of them dived at me from behind and actually hit me on the back of the head and flew through the lines of my glider and got all tangled up.”
“It collapsed the glider completely. So we were plummeting for 500 meters (1600 feet), probably something like that, before the eagle got himself out,” she said.
Ms Moss said that she considered deploying her emergency parachute but decided that the eagles might also attack and damage that, leaving her with no back-up.
She regained control of her paraglider after the eagle escaped from her control lines. But the birds continued to attack her.
“I screamed at the eagles quite a bit. I just had to carry on flying. I got out of the skies as quickly as I could by doing some maneuvers, and about 300 feet from the ground the eagles left me alone. I landed quite easily and safely in a paddock.”
Her dramatic brush with the eagles was seen from the ground by other competitors.