One of the most challenging stages of the Flight of the Swan's expedition is the first 1000km, taking Sacha across the desolate Russian tundra. This vast wilderness is so sparsely populated you can fly for miles without seeing anyone. Even the Bewick's tend to fly this first leg of their epic migration in one go, sometimes flying 48 hours without stopping.
Luckily Sacha is flying with experienced long distance paramotorist Alexander Bogdanov. In 2005 Alexander set a world paramotoring record, flying more than 15 hours non-stop across Russia. Alexander will also act as translator during this leg of the trip, helping Sacha communicate with the remote nomadic communities they're likely to meet along the way.
Q Alexander Bogdanov, what was your first reaction when you heard about the plan to fly the Bewick’s migration route from the Russian arctic to the UK?
I thought it sounded like a really interesting project. There have already been some long distance flying adventures, but this is more exciting as it brings us closer to nature.
Q Why have you offered to help out with the Flight of the Swans project?
I love any type of travelling, but long distance flying by paramotor is my favourite.
Q This project highlights how important it is for countries right across Europe and Russia to collaborate. How do you think the paramotor flight along with the Bewick’s migration will help get the attention of the Russian people?
I think it will depend how Flight of the Swans is introduced to the media. Adventure sports are great for grabbing attention, but if it was just about us flying I don’t think it would be enough. We need to talk more about the threat to the swans and then I think people will take notice.
Q How do you think Flight of the Swans can help raise an interest amongst Russians?
We need to be able to say something really interesting and new about saving the swans. Beautiful shots and video footage of Bewick’s will also be a huge help.
Q What are the challenges of flying in your country?
This whole expedition is full of challenges. But in Russia, I think the biggest challenge we’ll face is flying over tundra. It’s really sparsely inhabited and you can fly hundreds of miles without seeing anyone. There are also strong winds to contend with which can be particularly bad in September and these could stop us at any point. And with the winter coming, it might already be very cold.
Q What kinds of landscape might we cross?
We’ll mostly be flying over the tundra and it will be the first time that I have flown over it in the autumn. The area around Onega Lake is also beautiful with its stone and rock edges. I also love the unique architecture that you can find in the north of Russia.
Q What are you looking forward to most?
For me it’s the challenge of the adventure and the opportunity of helping an amazingly brave woman with her flight to save the Bewick’s swans.