Paramotor Crash Kills Adventure Filmmaker; Severely Injures Climate Activist

Dan Burton paramotor crash death
Dan Burton flies during the Round Britain Climate Challenge Project. Photo: Dan Burton

On Saturday, September 18, well-known adventure journalist Dan Burton died after a mid-air paramotoring collision with conservationist Sasha Dench. Burton was 54.

The accident took place while Burton was filming Dench for a documentary project. In a (somewhat trivial) world first, Dench planned to circumnavigate the British mainland in an electric paraglider. Dench’s flight would support her non-profit, Conservation Without Borders, leading up to November’s COP26 UN climate change conference in Glasgow.

Burton stepped up as Dench’s wingman and photographer as she attempted the 5,000km flight. A veteran of multiple air-to-air camera projects, his deep resumé included a project about Lapland’s indigenous Sami people, who used paramotors to herd reindeer. He also filmed the ancient city of Petra from the air, with high-security permission from the Jordanian government.

Burton and Dench had previously worked together on several projects around the UK, including flying over the White Cliffs of Dover in a microlight, with British TV star Joanna Lumley. They had also documented various climate change projects around the country.

dan burton paramotor crash death

Dench, Burton, and Lumley. Photo: Dan Burton

Paramotor accident details

The two paramotorists collided sometime between 3:30 and 4:45 p.m. local time, near Loch na Gainmhich in northern Scotland. After the pilots took off at 3:30, the ground crew lost contact with them and eventually filed a report to Scottish Police.

Dench, known as the “Human Swan” for her paragliding work, was transported from the scene to the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. The most recent reports indicate she remains in serious condition, with injuries said to be grave but not life-threatening.

In a statement, Conservation Without Borders said:

We are very sorry to have to confirm that Dan Burton, the support paramotorist has died as a result of the accident.

Both highly experienced paramotorists, our thoughts are with the family of Dan Burton, to whom we offer our sincere condolences. The incident was attended by police and medics and inquiries are under way to establish the details of the accident.

The families have been informed. At this stage we would request that the privacy of the individuals and families involved be respected.

Aftermath

Conservation Without Borders said that the documentary project, called the Round Britain Climate Challenge, has been “put on hold.”

Reportedly, the British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (BHPA) is investigating the accident. As of this writing, no information about the investigation was available on the organization’s website.

Dan Burton is survived by his wife Caroline and their two adult children.

Dan Burton paramotor crash death

Burton. Photo: Conservation Without Borders

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About the Author

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson takes any writing assignments he can talk his way into while intermittently traveling the American West and Mexico in search of margaritas — er, adventure. He parlayed a decade of roving trade work into a life of fair-weather rock climbing and truck dwelling before (to his parents' evident relief) finding a way to put his BA in English to use. Sam loves animals, sleeping outdoors, campfire refreshments and a good story.

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Leon
Leon
27 days ago

Sad…

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