A Sling light aircraft crashed in western Tanzania on Saturday, killing two South Africans supporting the U-Dream Foundation’s Cape to Cairo flight.
The four-seater Sling 4 entered Tanzanian airspace from Uganda and was en route to Malawi when it made a distress call about engine failure before disappearing from radar, according to the Tanzanian Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA).
“The pilot and passenger, both South African citizens, were killed in the plane crash that occurred shortly after takeoff from Tabora airport at around 7:30 am,” Sikonge district commissioner Peres Magiri told the ITV television station.
The aircraft was destroyed by fire after it crashed and only the engine and other parts were recovered. The Sling 4 was owned by U-Dream Global.
In a Facebook post released on U-Dream Global’s page, it is said that the aircraft was being flown by the two project directors of the U-Dream Global: Cape to Cairo Challenge, Des Werner and Werner Froneman, who lost their lives in the crash.
The U-Dream owned aircraft was a support and backup plane to the Sling 4 being flown by three teenage pilots, including Des Werner’s daughter Megan Werner
U-Dream Global set out to build and fly a Sling 4, which was developed and manufactured by The Airplane Factory, from Cape Town to Cairo. The Sling 4 arrived in Cairo on 8 July after a 12 000 km journey with the aircraft having its own minor avionic problems, according to Megan Werner.
U-Dream Global is a non-profit organisation founded by 17-year-old Megan Werner. Its aim is to uplift, empower and transform the lives of youngsters. Following submissions via WhatApp application videos, over 200 youths from diverse backgrounds across South Africa applied for the 20 places available in the project. Under guidance and supervision from The Airplane Factory, U-Dream mentors and five team leaders from Denel Aviation, the twenty inexperienced teenagers built the Sling 4 aircraft in three weeks in June 2018. A second Sling 4 was used to support the teen-built aircraft on its journey.
According to U-Dream Global spokesperson, Simon Manda, on the trip to Cairo, the support aircraft developed fuel leakage problems in Addis Abada and a decision was made to ground the aircraft while the teenagers continued via Sudan and then Cairo. Manda said that the company then recently decided to collect the aircrafts and fly them back down to South Africa, which is when the tragedy occurred.
The three teenagers are now set to return home on a commercial flight back to South Africa from the Likoma Islands where the backup pilots were set to join them.