Charity paramotor pilot battles injury and bad weather

12 October 2016: Slowed down by injury, airspace restrictions and bad weather, it has been a frustrating week for the Inmarsat-sponsored Flight of the Swans expedition team.

After a speedy crossing over the Russian tundra at the start of the expedition to chart the migration of the Bewick’s swan from the air, the team has fallen 10 days behind schedule.


Paramotorists Sacha Dench, Dan Burton and Alexander Bogdanov were grounded by the weather and were then forced to take a longer route due to airspace restrictions – not a problem for the swans they are following on their 4,500-mile (7,000 km) annual flight.

Dislocated kneecap

On Saturday, Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) expedition leader Sacha was attempting to take off when she stumbled on uneven ground. An MRI scan confirmed she had temporarily dislocated her kneecap.

Determined to keep any further delays to a minimum, Sacha has added wheels to her paramotor so she can take off without putting undue pressure on her injured leg.

Sacha said:  “I’m still right in the midst of the Bewick’s swan migration and I’m looking forward to catching up with flocks of them at the wetlands near St Petersburg and further down the flyway. Injury is always a risk for paramotorists, just as it is for the swans, and we just hope that it won’t hold me up for too long.”

Sharp decline

Flight of the Swans aims to discover why the number of Bewick’s swans who survive the annual migration across Europe to the UK is in sharp decline.

The expedition team has two BGAN terminals and six IsatPhone 2 satellite phones supplied by Inmarsat so they can stay in touch, transmit reports, video and photographs, and post on social media throughout the swans’ journey.