Sliding the bubble canopy forward with a satisfying “thunk,” I looked at the panorama around me—I could see our island destination in the distance—and took in the smell of fresh leather. The stick felt like an old friend, and the MGL Avionics EFIS fired up to the “Engine Start” checklist. A flip of a couple of toggle switches and a twist of the key, and the engine sprang to life like an eager student on the first day of school. This miniature fighter plane was ready for adventure, and my copilot conveyed an enthusiastic, “Excellent!” as we taxied out.
“Excellent” is a word that a lot of people are using when it comes to this aircraft. Meet the Sling, a brand-new light-sport aircraft (LSA) that has been turning heads since 2006 when Mike Blyth and James Pitman began developing it in Johannesburg, South Africa. Blyth was an early pioneer of microlight flying in South Africa, and had already designed and built several aircraft. He set out to build a stronger, better-flying full-sized aircraft, so he formed a company—The Airplane Factory—to do it. Completed from concept to certification in a miraculous three years, the Sling is the result of Blyth and Pitman’s voracious appetite for adventure and for what they term “bringing the spirit of aviation to the masses.”