Steve Dench travels from Queensland to Scotland for relief to ‘the human swan’ daughter Sacha Dench. to see
The father of an Australian scientist known as ‘the human swan’ who could lose her legs after a horrific paramotorcycle accident in Britain has just 24 hours to prove he is her father before his travel waiver is denied.
Sacha Dench, 43, was attempting to sail Britain in a motorized steel parachute with Dan Burton, 54, when she fell from the sky on September 19 after colliding with a member of her support crew.
Mr Burton died at the scene and Ms Dench was taken to hospital in Aberdeen, north-east Scotland, with critical injuries.
Her father Steve Dench, who lives in Queensland, said Sunday morning that the Australian Home Office demanded her birth certificate to verify their relationship – which he has not.
Sacha Dench (pictured), also known as ‘the human swan’, can lose her legs after an accident
Her father Steve Dench, who lives in Queensland, is now trying to get a travel exemption to see her
Australians are not allowed to leave the country unless they plan to stay abroad for an extended period of time or receive a compassionate waiver.
Citizens who leave for compassionate reasons must prove that travel is imperative with letters from doctors and relationship documentation – such as birth or marriage certificates.
“The Home Office have asked for a copy of her birth certificate or evidence of our relationship. I don’t have this,” he wrote in a Facebook group.
“I didn’t get a message until 11:26 p.m. Saturday evening and have until midnight tonight to provide this.”
Mr Dench explained that he has applied for a new birth certificate through Births, Death and Marriages, but the document may not arrive for weeks.
He also said the department would not speak to him on the phone until his exemption is denied.
Scientist and paraglider Sacha Dench (pictured) plunged from the sky during a 4,800km journey and record attempt across the UK
People flooded the comments section with messages of support and advice.
Some even urged him to come to the airport for his Tuesday flight and begged authorities to let him board.
‘Forget it, it doesn’t work. If you don’t get an exemption permit from the Ministry of the Interior, you can’t fly out,” one woman wrote.
But another chimed in, saying that Ms Dench, who is related to actress Dame Judi Dench and has connections to David Attenborough and Prince Charles, means her cause is held in high esteem and would be a priority.
Some suggested he hire an immigration attorney, while others criticized authorities for not letting him see his daughter — even with certificates and letters from her surgeons.
Paramotorist Sacha Dench in flight as she passes the Kelpies at Falkirk as she returns to Scotland as part of a world record-breaking challenge (pictured September 3)
Sacha Dench pictured with celebrity supporter Joanna Lumley supporting her circumnavigation effort
“I’m so sorry about your daughter… she’s one of a kind,” one woman said.
“I’d send them news articles and doctor’s notes. How many people can even use a paramotor? Isn’t that enough evidence?’
Ms Dench’s condition is not life-threatening, but it is life-changing, according to her father, who explained that she underwent an 18-hour operation on Friday during which doctors tried to save her legs.
The biologist got her nickname after raising awareness of the plight of Bewick’s swans by flying from the Russian Arctic to the UK.
She also set a world record in 2016 by becoming the first woman to cross the Channel by paramotor.
Ms Dench and Mr Burton had nearly finished their 4,800km around the UK as part of the Round Britain Climate Challenge when disaster struck.
They wanted to fly around the country in wind and green electricity powered paramotors ahead of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in November.
Sacha Dench with the Kelpies at Falkirk as she returns to Scotland as part of the world record-breaking challenge
Pictured: Paraglider pilot Dan Burton, 54, who died this weekend in a crash near Unapool in the Scottish Highlands
A final photo, taken by Burton and shared on his Facebook at around 8am on Saturday, shows clouds rolling in over the hills near the village of Tongue in the Scottish Highlands.
At about 4:45 pm emergency services rushed to the accident site near Lochinver but Mr Burton could not be rescued.
Ms Dench, who lived in Bristol in the southwest of England, is the chief executive of Conservation Without Borders, which led the expedition.
On Saturday evening, the charity said: ‘In the final phase of the Round Britain Climate Challenge, a major incident occurred involving the lead and support paramotors.
“We are very sorry to confirm that Dan Burton, the supporting paramotorist, has passed away.
“Sacha Dench is seriously injured and is being treated in hospital.”
Sacha Dench i is in critical condition in hospital in Aberdeen, Scotland. Her father hopes to fly from Queensland on Tuesday
It added that both were “very experienced paramotorists” and as a result of the accident, the challenge has been halted.
Ms Dench is known for her global expeditions with migratory species, but has shifted her focus to climate change after losing her family home in Sydney to bushfires last year.
Dame Judi and Sir Ranulph Fiennes have supported previous missions, including a flight over the Atlas Mountains.
For her latest challenge, Ms. Dench flew a specially modified machine that allowed her to take off and land anywhere to recharge
The British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association said it would conduct a ‘formal investigation’ into the accident.
“We cannot speculate on the causes of the incident. The investigation report will be published in due course,” it reads.
“The BHPA can confirm that both pilots were BHPA members and qualified to fly powered paragliders.”
Scotland Police confirmed the death of Mr Burton in a collision involving two paramotors.