Brian Middleton is our volunteer mechanic on the Flight of the Swans expedition. Here he tells us why he is so passionate about this adventure.
Q What prompted you to get involved in Flight of the Swans?
A few months ago I noticed the Flight of the Swans expedition on a paramotoring forum and it immediately caught my eye. I had heard of Sacha when I was in Australia, a few years back, and was pleasantly surprised to hear she was in the UK so I decided to get in touch. After a few emails and phone calls I was lucky enough to get a place on the selection weekend.
Q What are you looking forward to most about the expedition?
I love flying and I try and fly as many different things as often as possible! In 1983 I built my first ultralight aircraft and then in 1989 my first Paramotor. I thought both were easy to build as I have an engineering background but looking back I now realise it was quite an achievement for a teenager without the internet or any flying background to help me. I can apply all these skills on this expedition and I will love the challenge.
Q How hard was the selection process?
The selection weekend was fantastic with lots of tasks involving teamwork and map reading. Having been a rescue team leader in the emergency services for many years I did expect what was thrown at us on the weekend. I was pleasantly surprised that we didn’t have to get too cold or too wet which we all joked about regularly. I look forward to spending lots more time with the rest of team.
Q What are you hoping you can bring to the expedition?
Flight of the Swans is not my first expedition. I have been on expeditions to many countries from Africa to Israel. The most recent one took me more than half way round the globe. I have been attacked by pirates, been stuck in a hurricane and even had an acquaintance eaten by a cannibal in the Marquesas Islands. Expeditions and adventure are in my nature and part of my life. I am really looking forward to making sure that everything mechanical is in good working order and telling stories around a campfire with the people we meet. I think this is a once in a lifetime trip supporting a very worthy cause.
Q What does the Flight of the Swans mean to you?
I was brought up in Africa and have always been close to nature. I have had many unusual pets and past times ranging from collecting poisonous snakes to having giant fruit bats roosting in my clothes cupboard. I love nature and have a huge passion for conservation and find myself extremely concerned about human impacts on our environment and what we might not be leaving for future generations.
You don’t have to be a volunteer on the expedition to make a difference. You can do something as simple as sign our petition which demands protection for these birds and their valuable wetland habitats.