French Paraglider Survives 13-Minute Attack by Golden Eagle in Alps

Experienced paraglider survives harrowing 13-minute attack by a golden eagle in the French Alps, highlighting the risks of adventurous sports and the importance of protective gear.

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French Paraglider Survives 13-Minute Attack by Golden Eagle in Alps

French Paraglider Survives 13-Minute Attack by Golden Eagle in Alps

Thomas Rieu, a 34-year-old engineer and experienced paraglider, survived a harrowing 13-minute attack by a golden eagle while soaring 1,900 meters above the French Alps. The massive bird, with a wingspan of around two meters, struck Rieu on the back of the head, its sharp talons drilling through his helmet.

Rieu was paragliding at a high altitude when the eagle began its relentless assault. The bird repeatedly dove at him, using its powerful talons to strike his head and body. Despite the onslaught, Rieu managed to maintain control of his paraglider and began descending to land.

Golden eagles are among the largest birds of prey, capable of taking down sizable animals like deer and mountain goats. Attacks on humans, however, are exceedingly rare. Wildlife experts speculate the eagle may have perceived Rieu as a threat to its territory or nearby nest.

Why this matters: This incident highlights the inherent risks in adventurous sports like paragliding and the unpredictable nature of wildlife encounters. It also emphasizes the importance of protective gear, as Rieu's helmet likely prevented more serious injuries from the eagle's talons.

After a tense 13 minutes, the eagle finally disengaged and flew off as Rieu safely landed. He emerged relatively unscathed from the incident, with his helmet bearing the scars of the eagle's fierce talons. "It was a rare and noteworthy experience," Rieu said of his encounter with the majestic but formidable raptor high above the French Alps.

Key Takeaways

  • Paraglider attacked by golden eagle at 1,900m in French Alps for 13 mins
  • Eagle's talons pierced paraglider's helmet, but he maintained control and landed safely
  • Golden eagles can take down large animals, but attacks on humans are rare
  • Incident highlights risks of adventurous sports and importance of protective gear
  • Paraglider emerged relatively unscathed, calling it a "rare and noteworthy experience"