You don’t need a big jumbo jet to see the world, you just need a Sling! Both the Sling 2 and Sling 4 have proven they’ve got the stamina to last the distance. With room for only a couple of passengers, those who’ve gone before will understand it can be a wonderfully peaceful flying experience. Bet you never thought to travel the world in a Sling though!
We were at the Australian International Airshow, held recently at Avalon Airport just outside Melbourne. It’s there we met Mike Blyth, co-owner of The Airplane Factory (TAF) which designs and produces the Sling. Using the Sling for flight training at LTF has shown us just what a well-designed aircraft it is. It was incredible to learn that it had flown Mike around the world — twice!
Taking the Sling for a spin
Mike’s first expedition took place in 2009 when he journeyed with his business partner at The Airplane Factory, James Pitman, in the Sling 2. A couple of modifications were made to prepare the plane for the feat, they were:
- Two sections of each wing were sealed off to create additional fuel tanks - Fifteen extra layers of glass fibre were added to the main undercarriage - Seating was adjusted so they could lie flat - Joysticks were modified so they could be removed during the flight
Starting in Johannesburg they covered 45,150km hopping their way across the globe through iconic locations including Florida, Kuala Lumpur and Colombo.
Expedition number two took place in 2015 and this time Mike shared the Sling 2 with Jean D’Assonville, from TAF USA, and Patrick Huang, from TAF Asia. The trio worked their way west from Johannesburg to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, before continuing onto the second half of the journey and finishing in Taiwan.
The longest stint
Each journey was studded with stints of 10 to 20 hours, but the longest stint the pilots flew was from Brazil to South Africa. Flying over the water for 27hrs and covering 6,222km, this is when the true capabilities of the Sling really came to light.
Making the most of flying time
From end to end, the first journey took Mike and James just over a month to complete, leaving Johannesburg on 18th July 2009 and returning on the 27th of August.
The second trip took just over two months, as the team left on 9th July 2015 and returned late September. The team would have fit some incredible sightseeing into that time. It also goes to show that when you’ve got the determination and a great aircraft, you can achieve great things in a relatively short amount of time.
How did the Sling hold up?
According to Mike, the Sling was absolutely flawless. He even thought the auto-pilot flew better than the pilots at times! A welcome feature while you travel the world in a Sling.
During the second journey when the team was travelling from Johannesburg to Oshkosh, they hit a bit of bad weather but never doubted the aircraft for a second. They faced storms, clouds and rain. They accepted that this is all part of the fun of flying and made them appreciate the smoother conditions in the USA when they arrived.
The world is your oyster
Following the path towards an aviation career really will open up opportunities you never thought possible. Becoming an airline pilot is not the only way to explore the world, as Mike Blyth proved by flying the humble Sling 2 all the way around the globe.