Next month a group of South African teenagers will fly a Sling 4 light aircraft from Cape to Cairo and back after having assembled the aircraft themselves over just three weeks.
One of drivers behind the project is 17-year-old Megan Werner, the founder of the U Dream Global Foundation, which aims to uplift, empower and transform the lives of youngsters. By flying the Sling from Cape to Cairo, Megan and her fellow teenagers plan to get youngsters interested in aviation both in South Africa and across the continent, and make a TV series about their adventure.
The excursion is due to start on 12 June (it was originally scheduled for earlier in the year). Following final inspections and flight certifications, Megan and 20 teen co-pilots are now set to fly the light aircraft from Cape Town to Cairo, charting a course across Africa to visit towns and cities in Namibia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea to Egypt and a return trip that will include Uganda, Rwanda and Zambia. The trip is expected to take more than a month.
Werner said the route was chosen mainly the safety, but also the fact that all the shores that border Africa will be connected. “That makes it the Indian, Atlantic, Red Sea and Mediterranean. We also have a chase plane that will help us make sensible decisions, but our plane will be flown by teenagers only.”
Voluntary support for logistical aspects of the flight is being provided by CFS, ExecuJet, Worldfuel and Mike Blyth, founder of The Airplane Factory – the enterprise that designed and built the original Sling aircraft series. The prototype of the Sling 4 was chosen because this type has already been flown twice around the world.
Using specially modified, self-made drones, the challenge will be documented on video as some of the teenagers fly alongside adult supervisors who will use a second Sling 4 aircraft for support to monitor proceedings.
To raise funds to cover the costs of fuel, accommodation, crew support, commercial flights, branding and documentation of the trip, the team hopes to raise a total of R350 000 through a campaign launched on donation based crowdfunding platform, BackaBuddy.
“The challenge has enabled us to take a lot of teenagers from different backgrounds to teach and equip them with life skills that they can take with them into the future,” said Megan. “Throughout Africa, we are hoping to do similar impacting thousands of lives of the youth that are the future of the continent.”
“By doing this project we can show the youth and people right across the world that anything is possible if you set your mind to it. If teenagers can build a plane and fly it Africa what is stopping you? We hope the public will support our BackaBuddy campaign because a journey of 1000 miles starts with a single step!” Megan said.
The Sling 4 for the trip was built over three weeks in June 2018, coinciding with school holidays. It was built under the guidance and supervision from The Airplane Factory, U Dream mentors and five team leaders from Denel Aviation.
U Dream Global will host a pre-trip party on June 8 at Tedderfield Airpark in Eikenhof, 24km south of Johannesburg, where The Airplane Factory is located. The public will have an opportunity to meet the team and see the aeroplane fly.
defenceWeb is proud to be a sponsor of this project and has made a generous donation towards the aircraft.