On Friday afternoon I (James) flew ZU-TAE, the Airplane Factory demo aircraft, down to Durban for the Virginia Airshow over the weekend. We had 6 Slings on the field and lots of interest from the public.
I was the lucky one, back here at the factory everyone was working non-stop.
What a great feeling to arrive back to see the tail on the fuselage, the wings 100% completed and all buffed up, the engine with all the basic accessories on and the canopy checked for fitment and ready for the final inside layup. That took place overnight and the layup is completed and drying this morning, heated with multiple heaters.
Meanwhile Gareth and Buto commenced wiring the instrument panelat midnight, after having already worked for 17 continuous hours, and right now, at 08h15, they’re still going at it. The result, however, is that the sexy Sling 4 ATW panel is fitted and the lines laid – see below.
Today’s focus is to complete the wiring, to get the fuel lines in and to install the control systems. That completes 80% of the remaining 20%. Then it’s just wings on and finishing. In practice that all takes some time – we need to wait for the Sikaflex glue we use to bond the canopy glass to dry, we need to shape the wing nacelles and finish the shaping of the dorsal fin, trim and fit the cowling and so on. The net effect of that is that the aircraft is likely to fly only on Wednesday afternoon.
Notwithstanding this, we will be “launching” her tomorrow morning, 10h00 Tuesday 19 July, with the Director of Civil Aviation, Mr Zakhele Thwala present to commemorate the occasion. We look forward to showing him around our premises and explaining how we do things.
We’re getting lots of questions about when the Sling 4 will fly and when Mike and Jean will be leaving. Of course everything depends upon safety considerations and there being no hitches. The time it takes to get things done does mean that we seem to be moving the date backwards and backwards. Provided the Sling 4 can arrive in Oshkosh before the end of the show, however, we won’t delay the trip, we’ll go as soon as we’re ready. So departure now looks most likely on Friday afternoon 22 July or Saturday 23 July. Weather permitting the trip can quite easily be done in 6 or 7 days, so that gives Oshkosh on the most exciting and busy days, Friday or Saturday of the show.
More as we go.
Cheers from the team