Composites help Sling pilots fly around the world

Mike Blyth and James Pitman, co-owners of South Africa-based The Airplane Factory, on Aug. 27 completed an around-the-world trip in the Sling, a sport aircraft they built that makes significant use of composites. Their 40-day trip took the duo through 13 countries and covered a distance of 45,150 km/28,055 miles.

Mike Blyth and James Pitman

The plane uses glass/epoxy composites in the main undercarriage, wheel covers/spats, the engine cover and the struts. The prop is also made with composites, although material fiber and resin type were not specified. The Sling 002 in which Blyth and Pitman flew is a modified version of the company’s standard Sling craft, but with some modifications. These included an additional 15 layers of glass fiber on the undercarriage, and an additional 15 layers of glass fibers on the struts to reinforce the landing gear to withstand the weight of additional fuel for the trip. The company says that when the Sling enters production, more of the craft will be made from composites. All the composite materials were supplied by Aerontec, based in Cape Town.

When fully loaded with fuel, pilots and their luggage, the Sling 002 weighed just 900 kg/1,984 lb. It has a cruising speed of about 90 knots indicated air speed.

For more on the trip, the Sling and The Airplane Factory:

Slingshot undercarriage

Slingshot plane