The first Sling built from kit by a customer of The Airplane Factory took to the air for the first time on 1 November 2010. ZU-MDK was built, with great patience and forgiveness, by Michiel de Koker, The Airplane Factory’s first kit builder. Luckily Michiel is a large scale radio control model aficionado who was able simply to keep doing what he already does so well, simply one order of magnitude up. It can’t be denied that as the first Sling kit builder Michiel did serve as something of a guinea pig and he was quite frequently on his own, without a completed manual, and having to use his initiative. Fortunately the manual has now been completed to a high standard and other builders are now also well on their ways. Thanks Michiel for doing such a great job of bearing with us in our early days, building the plane so immaculately, instrumenting it to such a high degree and putting such a beautiful paint job on her. ZU-MDK has a Rotax 914 UL engine and even at 700kg, at a density altitude of 10 000 ft, climbs at close to 1 000 fpm with the taps wide open!
Other good news is that two more Slings will fly during the first week of December and a third before Christmas, making it 6 Slings in two months! TAF intends to motivate for night flying permission for the completed Slings, all of which are owned by pilots with night ratings. The comprehensive instrumentation on Michiel’s Sling is materially the same as the instrumentation that Mike and James used on their around the world flight last year. There seems little question that in practice the aircraft could be safely flown in IMC conditions. Michiel therefore looks forward to raising this issue with the CAA at an appropriate time in the future, once everything has been fully tested in less adverse weather!
Meanwhile, ZU-TAE, the Airplane Factory demo plane, is currently on show at the SA Food Wine Design Fair which is open to the public at the Hyde Park shopping centre on Friday, Saturday and Sunday 26 to 28 November 2010. Photos to follow. If you live in Johannesburg please visit us on the roof of the Hyde Park shopping centre to share some of SA’s finest food and wine while admiring one of the most gorgeous aircraft ever designed.