nuno virgilio
  • Country of Origin: US
  • Gender: F


Activity: Paragliding

I am originally from California where I used to work as a hair stylist. Although I loved my job and my life back home I had a severe case of wanderlust and a desire to fly all the time. All I could think about was hitting the road with nothing but what I could carry on my back, fortunately I had a light weight solo glider in those days.

It turned out to be the best decision I've ever made. Over the last 4 years I've made incredible memories, shared my time with amazing friends that I now call my family, and had some epic flying moments.

I've fallen into a rare position as the lead parahawking pilot out here in Nepal and not a day goes by that I am not reminded of how lucky I am. Both in my line of work and my position in the world. It's extremely lucky to have a situation in life that allows me to do almost anything I want. Living in a 3 world country has taught me to never take anything for granted.

Last year I was accepted into the Nova Pilots team. They have a great philosophy for the team members. There is no pressure to win, just enjoy yourself, stay safe and represent the brand well.


How do you know about this sport? Why did you get interested in it?

I was introduced to paragliding in 2004 by a friend in San Francisco. He took me for a tandem flight above the pacific Ocean. From the first moment, I was hooked. I finally found what I had been searching for, a beautiful combination of flying and experiencing the great outdoors. 

When I was a child I dreamed of being a pilot. I've wanted to fly for as long as I can remember. My parents gave me a flight lesson for my 13th birthday, it was the first airplane I had ever been in and I flew it. We didn't have the money to continue my flying lessons but I never forgot that feeling. I thought about all the different ways to fly and I was very interested in gliders in general. I wanted to fly without an engine. Paragliding was particularly attractive to me because you can travel all over the world with a glider on your back. It requires a very small space to launch and land making it possible to fly in places other gliders cannot. It's also possible to climb to the top of a mountain with your glider on your back and fly from the top. It beats hiking back down!


Have you ever come across any setbacks with this sport? How could you overcome it?

I learned to fly in 2004 and I was obsessed with it! I traveled to India when I had just 10 hours of airtime and flew everyday for 6 weeks. I had my first cross country flights and I was convinced I would start competing and only get better and better. Unfortunately a series of events made me lose all my confidence and I almost stopped flying. Without a doubt the worst of those events was the death of my instructor and mentor. He was flying with a student and had an accident in the tandem. They both died. It was heart breaking to lose such a wonderful friend and devastated my confidence in flying. He was the person I looked up to. I couldn't believe he died. It was shocking and terrifying to think that if this happened to an experienced pilot it could also happen to me. 

In addition to this tragic event I witnessed a number of people throwing their reserve parachutes and having accidents in my first years flying. People lost their lives. People were hurt. People were falling out of the sky all around me. How could I justify taking this kind of risk?? 

I became paralyzed with fear. If I did fly it was straight to the landing. This went on until 2008 when I finally decided it was time to either give up paragliding or really commit myself and become a safer, better pilot. 

I chose paragliding. I wanted to overcome this fear and I really wanted to fly. I quit my job, I moved out of my house, and I sold everything I had. I bought a one way ticket to India and left with only what I could carry on my back. I fought to get my confidence back in the air. It didn't come right away but it did eventually come. I spent hours flying and soul searching to overcome my fears. My journey brought me all over the world and has changed my life forever. 

Now over 4 years later I am happy to say that is a distant memory. I still have fear occasionally but it's a healthy respect for the sport, not a disabling emotion. I now work as a professional paraglider pilot and compete in as many events as I can. 


Do you have any fantastic experience or achievement with this sport?

Nova sponsored team pilot since 2012

Women's Nepal Champion 2012

Sport Class Champion of Nepal 2012

Parahawking sponsored Team pilot since-2010


What kinds of equipment are needed for playing this sport?

It's essential to be dressed for success while paragliding. It's common to fly at altitudes exceeding 3000 meters and it can be extremely cold. I rely on the high quality, durable products from One Polar to keep me protected from the wind and the cold.


Onepolar provides the athletes with sponsorship and collect reviews for the purpose of product development. How do you view this?

Lot's of clothes can look great, but when you need your clothing to serve a purpose and stand up to the abuse of the outdoors it's imperative that these clothes get tested before you buy them. As a One Polar sponsored athlete I am out in the elements using my gear every day. If the fit or the performance is lacking I can communicate that directly to the design team which will benefit the consumer.  We're working together to produce the best possible outdoor clothing.