Alex Ploner (ITA)
Hometown: Brixen, Italy
Zodiac sign: Cancer
How did you get into hang gliding?
Since I was a child I dreamt of getting up in the air somehow. Hang gliding was the perfect opportunity to fulfil my dream of flying.
What’s so special about this sport?
I could list a lot of things… first and foremost the incredible freedom, the stunning views and the fact, that it never gets boring. Each flight is different.
What do you need to become a good hang glider?
Great passion, patience to learn, openness to experience and enjoyment. It should all be fun.
When did you start participating in competitions?
In 1996 I competed in the South Tyrolean Cup for the first time.
And what motivated you to do that?
A good friend of mine told me that you learn the most in competitions; competing makes you a better pilot.
What are your greatest achievements to date?
I was World Champion three times in three categories (FAI 1, 2 and 5) and four times Italian Champion…
How do you prepare for a competition?
Flying a lot is the best preparation. On ground I maintain my fitness with other sports and pay a lot of attention to my equipment. Everything has to fit and work perfectly…!
What are you goals – what would you like to achieve in this sport?
Although I’ve already fulfilled my dream of becoming world champion, there is a lot more I’d like to achieve. In a nutshell, I’d like to constantly increase my knowledge to fly better, faster and further.
What was your best flight ever?
I believe my next one will be my best!
Have you ever experienced a scary situation in the air?
If you have been flying for a long time and always test new things, you may experience critical moments. But thank God, they’ve never been serious.
What are your strengths in your opinion?
Maybe my positive attitude?
And your weaknesses?
Well, I shouldn’t reveal my weaknesses, should I…
How do you protect yourself against the cold 3,000 m above the ground?
Having the right equipment is significant, and with adidas clothing I’m still warm in 4000 m altitude, without restricting my flexibility.
Are you doing any other sports or at least weight training as a balance?
In the wintertime I actively compete in snow cross races and I enjoy all kinds of sports like mountain biking, jogging, hiking, and skiing.
Do you think a success with the team is more moving than an individual achievement?
Hang gliding is mainly an individual sport, but the success with the Italian team, which we had in recent years, meant a lot to me.
For how long do you want to do this sport competitively?
For as long as I enjoy it and I can reasonable prepare myself.
And how long do you think you can do hang gliding? It seems as if there is no age limit as long as you stay physically fit.
Absolutely, the most important attributes are experience and know-how and that increases with the years. If you stay fit and healthy and have fun you can fly for many, many years!