Tuesday 26 September 2017

'Human swan' Sacha Dench arrives in UK on trail of migrating birds

Paramotorist Sacha Dench, the Human Swan, arrives in Dover
Paramotorist Sacha Dench, the Human Swan, arrives in Dover
Paramotorist Sacha Dench arrives in Dover after crossing the Channel from France

A conservationist who has been using a paramotor to soar across the globe for thousands of miles following the migration of Bewick's swans has landed in the UK.

Former free-diving champion Sacha Dench is in the closing stages of a 4,500-mile mission to fly with the birds as they head to the UK, using just a parachute wing and a small propeller engine.

The so-called "human swan" has been travelling from the Russian Arctic tundra since September and landed on British soil shortly after 12.30pm on Monday, having taken off from France at around 11am GMT.

Her touchdown near Dover also landed her in the record books, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) said, as it is claimed to be the first time a woman has crossed the channel by paramotor.

Ms Dench, who will continue her journey for several more days until she reaches the WWT nature reserve at Slimbridge, Gloucestershire, said she was pleased with how the channel crossing had gone.

She said: "It went really well, we were predicted a bit of fog in the morning but we didn't have that and there were a few delays, but then once we'd taken off the conditions were lovely."

She added: "It's great to be the first woman to do anything, I'm not really sure why no woman has done it before except not many women fly paramotors.

"I feel now I have crossed so many countries and communities I want to do anything I can to encourage or champion women doing adventures."

Her 10-week journey aims to uncover new science about why numbers of the Bewick's swans journeying back to overwinter in the UK has halved. She also hopes to highlight their plight and engage with communities along their migration route.

Ms Dench added: "I'm a bit sad the adventure is coming to an end - but there is no end to adventures out there."

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