The Airplane Factory is an aircraft manufacturer based in Johannesburg, South Africa. The company specialises in the production of light aircraft components for amateur constructors. To mark the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Light Aircraft Association (LAA) representative body and because The Airplane Factory
was planning to launch their four-seater "Sling 4" on the UK market, the founders wanted to do something out of the ordinary. The question then was what could they do? The idea was to do something new that would be challenging, interesting and engaging but also a little bit crazy – constructing an aircraft during the LAA Rally at Sywell Aerodrome!
Sling 7 - 10 Challenge = 70th Anniversary LAA Sling Build Challenge
Once the idea had been suggested, a full four-seater aircraft kit was packed up in South Africa and sent to Sywell Aerodrome, where it was constructed by ten people (TAF employees and volunteers) within seven days. After the team had completed their work, the first test flight was held there and then at the LAA Rally. With the employees at The Airplane Factory already having created more than 200 Sling aircraft, you might assume that this particular challenge would actually be incredibly easy for the experienced team. The difficulty, however, was that more than half of the team in Sywell had absolutely no previous experience of aircraft construction. The first two customers from the UK were amongst the newbies. Mike Blyth, Designer and Founding Member of The Airplane Factory, headed up the team under the motto "Failure is not an option".
The "7 - 10 LAA Sling Build Challenge" served as proof that you don't have to be a qualified engineer to be able to put an aircraft kit together yourself. With a few instructions and a little assistance, anyone can take on this particular challenge with success. The LAA Rally at the Sywell Aerodrome was an exciting event for GESIPA® UK too, as GESIPA® sponsored The Airplane Factory by providing several AccuBirds® and was also given the chance to inspect the finished aircraft up close. GESIPA® also supplies TAF with PolyGrip® alu/steel blind rivets, which were deployed in the construction of the aircraft. Around 17,000 blind rivets in different sizes are needed to put together an aircraft of this calibre.