- Sacha Dench
- United Kingdom (Dover)
Flying in a wheel-launched paramotor, or paratrike, Sacha Dench (UK) became the first woman to cross the English Channel in such a vehicle when she flew from Aeroclub du Boulonnais in France to Dover, UK, on 5 December 2016. Dench took off from France at 11 a.m. (GMT) and landed in the UK at 12.38 p.m. for a total crossing time of 1 hour 38 minutes.
This was the penultimate leg of a 7,200-kilometre (4,500-mile) journey that Dench, with the support of the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT), had made from Arctic Russia, following the endangered Bewick’s swans (Cygnus columbianus) on their annual winter migration route. Having departed from Russia on 19 September 2016, she flew her paramotor over 11 different countries, before arriving back at Slimbridge WWT Wetland Centre in Gloucestershire, UK – the birds’ primary overwintering location – on 16 December 2016.
The model of paramotor Dench flew in was a FreshBreeze Polini 130.
Dench has received numerous awards for her epic “Flight of the Swans” expedition, including the Jean Lennox Bird Pendant from the British Women Pilots’ Association in 2017 and a Britannia Trophy from the Royal Aero Club in 2018.
The first known person to have crossed the English Channel in a powered paraglider (PPG) was French aviator Gérard Feldzer, who flew from the UK to France in a “ParaPlane” on 13 October 1984.