‘Human swan’ takes off on flight around mainland Britain

Paramotorist Sacha Dench with her glider as she checks the weather on the beach at Stevenston to see if the conditions are right for flight. Picture date: Thursday June 24, 2021. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
Paramotorist Sacha Dench with her glider as she checks the weather on the beach at Stevenston to see if the conditions are right for flight. Picture date: Thursday June 24, 2021. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)

A woman dubbed “the human swan” has set off on a world-first circumnavigation of mainland Britain to raise awareness about climate change.

Sacha Dench is making the 3,000-mile journey to mark the Cop26 UN climate change conference taking place in Glasgow later this year.

She took off from Stevenston, North Ayrshire on Saturday morning in an adapted electric paramotor.

The Australian will fly anti-clockwise around the coast and return to land in the area around six weeks later.

Ms Dench is known for global expeditions with migratory species, but has turned her focus to climate change after losing her family home to bushfires last year.

Speaking previously, she told the PA news agency: “I’m going to be trying to fly a complete circumnavigation of mainland Britain in an electric-powered paramotor, and I’m doing it to try and demonstrate just how far we can go in terms of decarbonising our transport and our lifestyles in general.

“The real thing we’re hoping to do though is make use of the journey and fact I have to stop frequently to change batteries to stop and land and speak to people who have solutions for climate change, because there are lots of people with brilliant ideas, brilliant projects already in train, that I think can show us that whilst Britain drove the industrial revolution, we can drive the green revolution too.”

The UN Cop26 event is set to be held at the Scottish Event Campus from November 1-12, despite activist Greta Thunberg suggesting it should be postponed again due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Sacha Dench flight
Paramotorist Sacha Dench with her adapted electric paramotor (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The expedition, sponsored by EDF, is described as an extreme test over challenging landscapes.

The electric paramotor will replace the usual two-stroke engine she has used for long expeditions.

Ms Dench hopes to set a new Guinness World Record for the fastest, and first, flight around Britain in a paramotor – and the first long-distance expedition attempted with an electric paramotor.

Simone Rossi, EDF UK chief executive, said: “The Round Britain Climate Challenge is a brilliant initiative to highlight climate change and some of the amazing people tackling it.

“Let’s break some world records and help Britain achieve Net Zero.”