“Human swan” who had fear of flying set to soar north

The “human swan” – who once had a fear of flying – could soon be seen soaring above the Western Isles.

Biologist Sacha Dench, head of media for the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust (WWT,) flew 4,500 miles last year in her motorised paraglider flight from the Arctic to the UK following the migration route of the endangered Bewick swan.

Now she is planning her next epic paramotor flight in May, supported by a team on a tall ship.

She said: “I have been to Harris and Skye and have always wanted to explore more of the islands, so when I was thinking about my next flight I thought it would be amazing to fly from tip to toe of the Hebrides.”

During her swan flight, Ms Dench travelled at altitudes of around 300ft and crossed 11 countries.

One of the greatest challenges was the temperature and at some points she had heated gloves, heated sachets in her boots and was wrapped in nine layers of clothing, but still felt cold.

The fact that she attempted such a challenge in the first place is remarkable as she developed a fear of turbulence after a frightening incident in South America when a small aircraft in which she was travelling got into difficulties in bad weather.

But determined to overcome her fear she learned to paraglide, then took to paramotors.

She said: “The reception we got on the journey was quite remarkable. The swans are such exciting birds so hopefully it will help make a difference.”