South African Teens Fly Round-Trip Across Africa In Aircraft They Built
By Kelsey Marie
A group of South African teenagers are flying across the African continent in a four-seater airplane they assembled themselves.
Megan Werner, a 17-year-old pilot whose U-Dream Global non-profit helped 20 African teenagers assemble an aircraft, tells All Africa, “If you’re a teenager and you’ve already built a plane, you can say to yourself, ‘Well, I’ve built a plane while I was a teenager, what else can I do?’ And then for the teenagers flying across Africa, just to be able to make a difference and show people what is possible is really inspiring.”
Werner and a few of her colleagues departed from Cape Town, South Africa this week on a round-trip flight to Cairo, Egypt, stopping in 11 countries along their journey.
Werner’s father, an airline pilot, will be flying alongside the teenagers during the voyage from southern Africa to northern Africa and back.
“The plan is crazy enough. It doesn’t need to be that crazy that my daughter must fly across Africa by herself. So, I’ll go and check that she’s OK,” says Werner’s father, Des Werner.
Athol Franz, editor of African Pilot Magazine believes that this hands-on involvement by teenagers will only help Africa’s aviation industry.
“The older guys like myself have to realize that young people are going to replace us. And the better skilled they are, and the more they know, and the more excited they are about aviation, the better for aviation in the world,” says Franz to All African.
The groups of teens built the kit aircraft under qualified adult supervision.
“I know for a fact that my team did their best, their absolute best, and I’m very confident that this airplane will make it to Cairo and back.”, says Agnes Semeela, one of the teens on the U-Dream Global Assembling team.
Lesego Ngoashen, another teen on the assembling team says, “Seeing that it’s now no longer, like, adult people engaging in this industry, but also young people can get involved in such projects, I think it’s going to inspire a lot of people to actually join aviation.”
The group of teens will be traveling around 7,400 miles during their round-trip journey.
Kelsey-Marie is an NYC girl who currently lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. You can keep up with her on Instagram at @kelseydashmarie