An aircraft built and piloted by South African teenagers has successfully touched down in Egypt three weeks after it set off from Cape Town.
The four-seater Sling 4 plane was assembled by a group of 20 students from vastly different backgrounds.
The teenagers in their four-seater aircraft left Cape Town last month and visited nine countries on their way to Cairo.
“I’m so honoured to have made a difference around the continent at the places we’ve stopped,” said Pilot Megan Werner, 17, founder of the U-Dream Global project.
“The purpose of the initiative is to show Africa that anything is possible if you set your mind to it,” she added.
Another Sling 4 plane, flown by professional pilots, accompanied the teen pilots on their journey.
The teenagers built the aircraft in three weeks from a kit manufactured in South Africa by the Airplane Factory.
Megan’s father, Des, who is a commercial pilot, said it would normally take 3,000 man hours to assemble a Sling 4.
The impressive feat had its challenges, Megan said.
In the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, they could not get fuel.
“We were concerned about flying across Sudan because of the political unrest in that country.”
The last leg, from Addis Ababa to Cairo via Aswan, tested the pilots’ mettle.
“Driaan van den Heever and I flew alone for 10 hours, without the support aircraft, so it was two teenagers, all by ourselves with no support,” Megan said.
The two pilots encountered a problem with one of their avionic systems about an hour into Egyptian airspace.
So they decided it would be better to land at the closest domestic airport in Cairo, instead of the international airport as planned.
“That created a little chaos but it was done in the interest of safety,” Des Werner said.
“In the end it was just a loose connection which they sorted out but the bureaucratic process took a while to sort out because they had to complete a report,” he added.
“When we landed in Egypt the authorities wanted to arrest us, take our passports and licences but luckily after about four hours, everything was sorted out and we got some more fuel and carried on to Aswan.
We then flew from Aswan to Cairo and it was a really awesome feeling to land here,” Megan said.