In 2018, South African teenager, Agnes Keamogetswe Seemela aged 15, together with 19 other teenagers from vastly different backgrounds successfully built a four-seater Sling 4 plane with a six and a half hour flying range.
The teenagers built the aircraft with supervision in just three weeks from a kit manufactured in South Africa by the Airplane Factory which had thousands of small parts that had to be assembled. This was made possible with the support of U-Dream Global.
Following the completion of the plane, the team’s first stop was in the southern Namibian coastal town of Luderitz, touching down on Zimbabwe, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, and Ethiopia and further accomplished landing Cairo after completing the 12,000-kilometre journey, flown by professionals.
“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,” Agnes Keamogetswe Seemela, a 15-year-old from Munsiville in Gauteng province, told the BBC. “I was involved in putting together the centre fuselage, as well as the horizontal and vertical stabilisers. I also helped a bit with the wings.”
She added, “At first, people in my community were shocked – they didn’t believe me when I told them I helped build a plane which we will be flying from Cape Town to Cairo. But now they’re actually very proud of me.”
It started with Megan Werner, 16 at the time, a daughter of a licensed commercial pilot who thought up the idea of a non profit which could help youths explore and reach their full potential through aviation. She then thought about building an aircraft from scratch – the idea was genius. Thus she became founder U Dream Global, the aviation outreach initiative that supported the teens in building the craft, she expressed great pride in the achievements of these young inventors, reports the BBC: “I’m so honoured to have made a difference around the continent at the places we’ve stopped.”
Today, six of those teens have proudly obtained flying licenses.