South African teens attempt Cape-to-Cairo in homemade plane

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Riyaz Patel

An aircraft built by South African teenagers is being flown from Cape Town to Cairo – and has successfully made its first stop in Namibia.

It will take six weeks to cover the 12,000km (7,455 miles) to Egypt.

The four-seater Sling 4 plane was assembled by a group of 20 students from vastly different backgrounds.

We want to “show Africa that anything is possible if you set your mind to it,” said 17-year-old pilot Megan Werner who started the project.

The teenagers built the aircraft 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.

Werner’s U-Dream Global initiative was whittled down from more than 1,000 applicants. She is 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.

” I am so proud of myself, I can’t believe what we’ve done. I feel like this is my baby. I cherish her,” said Agnes Keamogetswe Seemela, a 15-year-old from Munsiville township in Gauteng.

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.

“It flies so smoothly and the views were breathtaking,” Seemela said of its maiden voyage, from Johannesburg to Cape Town, ahead of the official start of the trip.

A support Sling 4 plane flown by professional pilots will accompany the teen flyers, who said they planned to do motivational talks for other teenagers along the way.

“It’s just awesome to see how inspired people are by what we’ve done,” said Werner. “It gave me goosebumps.”

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