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Mike’s earliest connection to aviation come from his father, who flew in the RAF. An early childhood fascination with flying was given expression when in 1984 Mike took a short flight in a Quicksilver ultralight, “I immediately realized I had found my calling.” He began sketching again and a few years later made and flew his first aircraft, a two-seat ultralight.
Mike, a well-known figure in aviation circles before developing the Sling, won the 1995 Microlight World Championships on a prototype trike that had just four hours of flight time. “I am not sure what gets into my head, but I have made a habit of flying my prototypes over long distances after just a few hours of testing.” One such trip involved a record-breaking 45,000 km cross-continental flight on a weight-shifting trike.
By 2005, Mike was eager to test his design skills on something more substantial. “I made a list of features I would like to see in my perfect aircraft. On doing some research, I was surprised that I couldn’t find a Light Sport Aircraft that had all the features in it that I considered important.” As South Africa’s distributor for Rotax, Mike was keen to design an aircraft that would do justice to these famously reliable and efficient engines. He teamed up with an aeronautical engineer, an aerodynamicist and a draftsman and by 2008 they had developed a prototype.
James Pitman studied science and law at the University of Cape Town before deciding on following the legal route. If law paid the bills, adventure animated the soul. James was something of a legend in South African adventure circles, with some serious mountaineering challenges under his belt.
In 2006 he joined up with Mike Blyth and Marianne Schwankhart for a flying (microlight) and rock-climbing trip around southern Africa. This trip was turned into a movie, No Need for Parking – An African Rock Adventure.
From there the idea to team up with Mike on an around-the-world adventure took root. Almost by accident, James – a lawyer, businessman and adventurer – was building an aircraft. He realised that his very eventful life had been working up to this moment. His keen intellect and very sharp scientific brain meant he could add serious value to building the Sling LSA prototype. His irrepressible energy and crazy enthusiasm helped fuel Mike’s vision of the ideal LSA. They made great partners. They achieved their goal of flying the Sling around the world. James, whose love of flying is palpable, sunk his savings into Sling Aircraft and spent the first seven years in the business giving life and soul to creating an aircraft brand of lasting value.
Also growing up on a farm in the Midlands of Natal, Andrew, early on, developed a love for traveling, the outdoors and speed, often being found stripping a 2-stroke dirt bike, only to see if it would go faster once put back together. After attending Michaelhouse boarding school for a fairly rebellious five years, Andrew graduated from Cape Town Varsity College in 2002 with an IMM diploma in International Business Management and Marketing.
He moved to London the following year, and joined Addison Corporate Marketing as an Account Executive and later Account Manager. Andrew provided support to the investor relations teams of various clients, including Anglo American, Vodafone, The Premier League, Visa and WPP.
With six years’ experience in corporate financial communications, Andrew left the UK and returned to South Africa to join Sling Aircraft. He started as the tea boy and book keeper, later becoming Sales and Marketing Manager. Having developed a passion for business, flying and adventure, Andrew now heads up Sling Aircraft. He oversees Sales, Marketing, New Business Development, Finance and Operations both locally and internationally, and is the Managing Director of the company.
“Today I met with Tim Hardy, the Sling Aircraft Distributor here in the UK. I made contact with Tim a while ago and through email, managed to arrange a meet, following relaxation in CV-19 regulations over here. Tim set up a meeting at the air field where he keeps his aircraft - the first built in the UK (and she’s a beaut!) I was overwhelmed by Tim’s friendly and patient demeanour. Knowledgeable and more than happy to answer and elaborate on all the questions I asked him. He graciously let me sit in his plane to get a feel and quickly showed me the Garmin systems - which are awesome. The experience was a pleasure and for my first interaction with an aircraft manufacturer, could not have been a more enjoyable meeting. Thanks Team Sling!!! ”
“What an exceptional experience this has been as the proud owner of a Sling 4.”
“The Sling is a gentleman’s airplane, you don’t have to be on it all the time.”
“It is one of few aircraft anywhere close to this price range that can carry four adults, six hours of fuel and 70 pounds of luggage.”
“We built an aircraft to give expression to our love for flying. Little did we know that the Sling would become the lead character in our story, the plucky fighter who said ‘YES’ to our crazy around-the-world adventures.”
“The Sling is a superbly balanced aircraft and would be considered a ‘pilot’s airplane’ if that term hadn’t been worn to dust by marketing people for airplanes that don’t come close. The Sling inspires you to fly it.”
“A very nicely integrated control panel throughout.”
"Many, many thanks to Sling Aircraft for ensuring our “Zanzibar Sling Africa Tour" was an adventure to remember! We were honoured to have been allowed to fly ZU-TAD which not only provided us with a remarkable lifting capability, endurance and speed, but also supplied parts to others less fortunate! We really appreciated the effort put in by Sean and his team in the rather mad days. Our flight back to UK was unbelievably tedious. At least in a Sling 4, there is no room for screaming babies, nor indeed for bored air stewardesses discussing their love life in the galley throughout the night whilst passengers are trying to sleep – what joy. I can now confirm I have made 3 great choices in my life – marrying Sandy, having Nick and Chris, and buying into the Sling dream!"
"My wife Maureen and I wish to thank the dedicated Sling Aircraft employees who built our Sling 2, #262, N517JT. It is truly a work of art and a mechanical genius. Since retiring for good in April 2019 and with the cooperation of Mother Nature, we’ve been living up to the Sling “Taking You Places” motto. I want to share with you, pics I had hoped to take some time ago, but didn't have the resources to accomplish. Well, thanks to Doug Goodrich, Goodrich Aviation, we were able to do some Air to Air work yesterday for his new website. I hope fellow Slinger’s enjoy the pics. Live From New York!"
"Good evening to the Sling Aircraft employees. Today, I flew my Sling TSi for two hours and the aircraft flies very well! My landings were not even as terrible as I thought they would be. Thank you for making me a wonderful plane. In addition, my father has also flown and was exceedingly happy. Thank you Sling Aircraft for making my father a happy man!"
The aviation industry is one of the most exciting and competitive industries in the world! At Sling Aircraft, we employ people who can help us soar above the rest; people ready to commit themselves to quality and performance.
We know it takes passion and energy in every area of our business to create quality aircraft. That’s why we invest in highly talented people, providing them opportunities to continuously grow and realize their full potential.
You will find that we stand behind our values of safety, people, quality, service and community. At Sling Aircraft, we aren’t just employees. We are parents, community volunteers and sports enthusiasts who enjoy warm weather year round in sunny South Africa.
If you share our values, start your search for a new career by emailing email@example.com.