‘Human swan’ touches down in the UK

A woman has crossed the English Channel in a paramotor during a 7242km journey to follow the migratory route of Bewick’s swans. 

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Sacha Dench left the Russian Tundra in September 2016 to follow the migration route of Bewick’s swans by air.

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The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) employee made history as the first woman to cross the English Channel in a motorised paraglider and touched down in Kent on 5 December.

“This part of the flight involved a lot of concentration as it’s the only area of my journey where if I had failed, I would have landed in water. So I had to make sure my escape route was planned and practised,” said Dench. “Seeing the shining cliffs of Dover was a lovely call to home.”

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Sacha Dench being interviewed after landing in Kent. © WWT

Her long trip has been undertaken in order to gain a better understanding of the migration journey of Bewick’s swans and the threats they face.  

During her travels, Dench has flown alongside Bewick’s swans and gathered information from local people about the species.

She is due to complete her journey in the week commencing Monday 11 December. Her final destination will be WWT Slimbridge in Gloucestershire.  

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Map showing the breeding and wintering ranges of Bewick’s swans © WWT

Sacha Dench’s journey

12 September The first of the satellite tagged swans, Daisy Clarke, embarks on her migration

19 September Sacha Dench begins her flight in the Russian Tundra

24 September Sacha arrives in the Russian coastal town of Mezen, after flying across 600km of tundra

3 to 7 October Sacha is delayed by weather conditions and airspace restrictions

8 October Sacha dislocates her kneecap when attempting take-off from St Petersburgh

Late Oct Having stopped in Lithuania for a few weeks, Daisy flies onto towards Poland and Germany

7 November Daisy arrives back in the UK just before midnight, having flown 3600km in 7 weeks

28 November Sacha arrives in Belgium

5 December Sacha crosses the English Channel and arrives in the UK

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Find out more about WWT’s Flight of the Swans