JOHANNESBURG – An aircraft that was built by a group of 20 South African teenagers is being flown from Cape Town to Cairo in Egypt.
According to BBC, the four-seater Sling 4 plane made its first trip in the southern coastal town of Luderitz, Namibia, 1128kms away.
The overall target is to fly to Cairo in Egypt but it will take six weeks to cover 12,000km (7,455 miles) to get there.
This plane was assembled by 20 students from different backgrounds and it was built in three weeks, from a kit manufactured in South Africa by the Airplane Factory.
The kit came with thousands of small parts that had to be assembled.
A 17-year-old pilot Megan Werner spear-headed the project yet ironically she doesn’t even have a driver’s license yet.
Her U-Dream Global nonprofit helped a diverse group of 20 African teenagers to assemble a light aircraft.
“It’s just awesome to see how inspired people are by what we’ve done, and it has given me goosebumps,” she said
According to Werner, the purpose of the initiative is to show Africa that anything is possible if you set your mind to it.
Aviation experts have called this a significant feat which will inspire teenagers who want to be pilots, engineers or anything else.
A 15-year- old Agnes Keamogetswe Seemela, one of the students who built the plane says she can’t believe but they managed to make it.
“Looking at the plane, I am so proud of myself, I can’t believe what we’ve done. I feel like this is my baby. I cherish her,” she said in excitement.
Seemela added at the official start of the trip that the plane flies so smoothly and the views were breathtaking.
She added saying “I was involved in putting together the centre fuselage as well as the horizontal and vertical stabilisers. And I also helped a bit with the wings.”
She, therefore, hoped her efforts would inspire others like her saying that at first, people in her community were shocked as they didn’t believe her when she told them about her information about building a plane which will be flying from Cape Town to Cairo.
“But now they’re actually very proud of me,” she added
It was 17-year-old Megan, who started the project, and those who joined her U-Dream Global initiative were whittled down from more than 1,000 applicants.
She was one of six in the group to have obtained a pilot’s licence, and the six will share flying duties in their silver aircraft, which is emblazoned with maps of Africa on both wings together with sponsor’s logos.
“Getting a pilot’s licence is equivalent to completing a degree – doing so when I had to study for my mid-year school exams wasn’t easy,” said Megan, who had her school-leaving exams in October to revise for, alongside her flight preparations.
Her father, Des Werner, who is a commercial pilot, said it would normally take 3,000 man hours to assemble a Sling 4.
“If you divide it by 20 kids working under supervision then you can do it in three weeks. The engine and avionics were fitted by specialists, but the building was all done by the kids,” he said.
The team’s first stop was in the southern Namibian coastal town of Luderitz. The plane has a six-and-a-half hour flying range and other stops on the way to Egypt will be in Zimbabwe, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia and Eritrea.
They will take a different route on the return journey that will include stops in Uganda, Rwanda, Zambia and Botswana.
BBC has confirmed that a support plane flown by professional pilots will accompany the teen flyers, who said they planned to do motivational talks for other teenagers along the way.