A group of South African teenagers has assembled a four-seater airplane and is flying it across the continent. Aviation experts say this a significant feat, one that will inspire teens who want to be pilots, engineers or anything else.
Seventeen-year-old Megan Werner is a pilot, even though she does not have a driver’s license yet.
Her U-Dream Global nonprofit helped a diverse group of 20 African teenagers assemble a light aircraft.
Werner and some of her colleagues left Cape Town this week for a round-trip flight to Cairo, with stops in 11 countries along the way.
“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,” she said.
Agnes Semeela helped to assemble the fuselage for the kit aircraft, which the teens built 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,” she said.
During the maiden flight event, the South African teens saw their plane take to the air for the first time.
Aspiring pilot Lesego Ngoashen is now even more interested in aviation after learning about building aircraft by being part of the U-Dream Global assembling team.
“Seeing that’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,” she said.