Christian Ciech is one of the most consistent and successful pilots in competition hang gliding. He has held FAI European and World Championship titles at the same time, and has also won numerous FAI team gold medals.
He learnt to fly in 1988 when he was 17. "I remember it very well because I was asking myself, How am I meant to fly straight with this glider?!" Showing an early aptitude he realised the glider he was on "did not fly very straight" but he still managed to land it in the right field. "I have been hitting the field ever since."
A professional test pilot for a hang glider manufacturer he grew up in the Dolomites in Italy, before moving to Lake Maggiore, on the southern side of the Alps to be near work.
Hang gliding competition is as much about the psychological "head game" as it is the physical act of flying the glider. To do well, pilots must stay cool, and so it is for Ciech. "The best situation for me is when I'm not thinking about the results, and instead I'm thinking about what I can learn from the flight.
"If I set my mind in this way, it's the best thing I can do. It's not always possible, of course. Sometimes the competition stresses you out and you fight for the result, but that doesn't work very well for me. Flying to learn is the way I fly competitions."
1998 FAI European Hang Gliding Championships, bronze
2002 and 2004: FAI World Hang Gliding Championships (Class 5), gold
2015: FAI World Hang Gliding Champion
2016: FAI European Hang Gliding Champion
Four Team Golds at the FAI World Hang Gliding World Championships, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015
Eight-time national Italian Hang Gliding Champion