Teens build a plane in three weeks... and fly over 10,000 kilometers
This June, an historic aviation challenge took place as twenty South African teenagers embarked on a flight from Cape to Cairo (...and back) - in a self-assembled aircraft that uses ordinary motor fuel and was built in only three weeks.
An aircraft built by South African teenagers is being flown from Cape Town to Cairo - and has successfully made its first stop in Namibia. Taking 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.
"The purpose of the initiative is to show that anything is possible if you set your mind to it," said 17-year-old pilot Megan Werner.
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.
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.
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, said Megan.
"It's just awesome to see how inspired people are by what we've done", said Megan "It gave me goose bumps."
By BBC AFRICA