We have an exciting and busy schedule ahead of us during our time in Poland. We'll be visiting schools, commmunity organisations and meeting with scientists and local media.
But none of this would be possible without the support of our polish paramotor partners.
Iwona Kwiatkowska has been paramotoring for 6 years. In 2016 she became the first polish woman to fly the 1000km along the Vistula River in Poland, from source to mouth. She is co-founder and president of Association Black Wings Team and will accompany Sacha throughout Poland with paramotorist Krzysztof Wieczorek and navigator Krzysztof Plewacki.
Q Iwona, what was your first reaction when you heard about the plan to fly the whole migration route of the Bewick’s swans, from arctic Russia to the UK?
This is an interesting and brave project. The flight is long, sometimes in difficult conditions, especially in Russia. This is also an unusual way to interest people in conservation and the plight of the Bewick’s swans. It is very unconventional in the way that it is using paramotoring for both ecological and scientific purposes.
Q Why have you offered to help out with the Flight of the Swans project?
This project ticks all the boxes for me. I like to fly long distances in new and interesting places. I am also interested in how an expedition like this is organised and comes together. How will the teams work together? How do you prepare for the media coverage and how can you attract the public's attention?
Q This project will highlight how important it is that countries across the flyway, from Russia through Europe, collaborate to protect vulnerable wetland environments. But do you think the human flights along with the long migration of Bewick’s swans, will help get the attention of polish people?
I’m hoping that the expedition will be interesting for people who love birds and are interested in swans. I imagine the media will also be interested in the project because of its ecological and scientific focus.
Q How do you think Flight of the Swans will persuade Polish people to help save the swans?
Polish people love storks, we all care about them and next to the eagle they are a symbol of our country. However, it is difficult for me to predict if the plight of the Bewick’s swans will interest polish people in the same way.
Q What are the challenges of flying in Poland?
Paramotoring in Poland is generally quite easy. The only tricky areas to fly over are the large forested regions and high mountain ranges like the Tatry Mountains. Take offs and landings on grasslands are very popular. It’s rare to have a problem with landowners, but it is better to ask first about the possibility of using their land.
What kinds of landscape might we cross?
One of the most interesting places to fly over in Poland is the Mazury Lake District. There are a lot of lakes and waterways here, dotted between forests. The Baltic coast is stunning, especially around the mouth of the Vistula River, the Vistula Spit and the Hel Peninsula. Famous for its huge sand dunes is Slowinski National Park near Leba City. The mountains of Bieszczady are beautiful but challenging to fly over because of the large number of forests. The Jurassic rock system near Krakow with its limestone rocks and castle ruins is worth a visit, as is Tatry, the highest mountains in Poland with its beautiful ridges and lakes.
What are you looking forward to most from the expedition?
I can’t wait to share exciting adventures with the great people of Flight of the Swans and to find out more about these beautiful birds and how we can protect the fascinating wetland ecology they need to survive.
Be part of the Flight of the Swans expedition to save the Bewick’s swan and sign our petition, which demands protection for these birds and their valuable wetland habitats.