Three Sling aircraft with a new high-wing design departed South Africa on July 10, with stops in Ghana, Angola, and Cape Verde before crossing the Atlantic Ocean to Barbados, and then on to the United States. Weather delayed their arrival in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, though not the enthusiasm of pilots, crew, and customers.
The voyage from the Johannesburg to the world's largest aviation event spanned about 72 flight hours, the arrival on July 27 a little later than originally hoped, though Sling Aircraft co-CEOs Matt Liknaitzky, Wayne Toddun, and Jean d’Assonville had plenty of time to make an impression at EAA AirVenture.
“When Sling finally built the high wing, I recognized it instantly as my plane,” said Sollars, Sling’s first high-wing production customer. An airline pilot and A&P mechanic who previously owned a Cessna T210, Sollars has more time to fly GA than when she began her career and wants to spend it flying an airplane with a modern engine and avionics. Mike Blyth, the aircraft’s designer, flew with Sollars from South Africa to Barbados.
“Building it, flying it, and maintaining it are three different things. So, I built it, [Blyth] helped me really fine-tune the flying part, and now I gotta learn how to maintain it,” Sollars said with a laugh. “It’s a spectacular journey and just a crazy, great, group of people.”
Sling employees, pilots, and curious onlookers watched the flight of three land and taxi to the homebuilt aircraft parking, Liknaitzky and EAA volunteers marshalling the arrivals onto the grass where they were met with whistles, cheers, and applause. As soon as the engines shut down, the pilots were rushed by family, friends, and photographers.
The second aircraft was piloted by one of Sling’s directors and partners James Pitman, and his friend, Matt Cohen, a recently certificated private pilot who began the trip with just about 25 hours in his logbook. Cohen is paraplegic, and the aircraft was equipped with hand controls.
The third aircraft is in the tailwheel configuration, and piloted by JP Schulze, known on social media as the Candourist. Schulze plans to continue from Oshkosh and fly around the world.
The two nosewheel Rotax-powered Slings are on display at Sling Island; Schulze’s will be stationed at the Rotax tent.
Sling operates a flight school and aircraft distribution center we recently visited in Torrance, California.