Meet the 20 South African teenagers building an aircraft to fly across Africa

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Africa is flying. Well, at least, that is the long-term target of some twenty ambitious teenagers who have stepped into the corridors of inventors after they successfully built their own four-seater aircraft.

20 teenagers built an aircraft to travel across Africa/U Dream Global

And the immediate intention of these South African inventors is to travel across Africa in it, covering over 10,000km across countries like Namibia, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

The group will also fly through Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia and Eritrea before their final destination of Egypt. They will then make stops in Uganda, Rwanda and Zambia.

The overall goal is to travel from Cape Town to Cairo, Egypt with a support aircraft flying with the team.

Supported by an aviation outreach initiative called U-Dream Global, the program aims to inspire young South Africans. Teen pilot and founder of U Dream Global, Megan Werner told IOL that “When we started building the aircraft, we didn’t know anything about aviation. We had to learn about all the tools and learning to read the engineering drawings was also quite a challenge.”

Warner said “We will also be giving inspirational talks to the locals at the different destinations and will offer them a first time experience on the aircraft because many of these people has never seen or even been on a plane before”.

This is not the first time young people across Africa have taken initiatives to build aircrafts and fly across the continent, a thing that only until recently wasn’t a common manufacturing comfort zone for Africans.

In a 2018 Face2FaceAfrica report, Patricia Mawuli-Porter, West Africa’s only female flight instructor taught girls and young people in Ghana and in the United States how to build aircraft.

She was invited to the Experimental Aircraft Association AirVenture fly-in in Oshkosh, Wisconsin twice and on one occasion, she helped a young team of young Americans with no prior aircraft building experience to assemble a Zenith CH750 aircraft in a record one week.

“There are a lot of young people (who), when they see me, (are given) hope. It motivates them to learn harder because they believe women actually have something ahead of them,” she said.

Mawuli-Porter is the co-founder of now-defunct Medicine On The Move, (MoM), a local NGO that worked together with the Aviation Academy to transport doctors, deliver medical supplies and services, as well as health education to rural communities across the length and breadth of Ghana.