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Thu, Sep 08, 2011

South African Team In LA On GA Circumnavigation Attempt

Change In Route Has Trip Tied Up In Red Tape

In a saga with undertones of "the best laid plans" ... an 'Around The World' attempt being undertaken by the manufactures of the Sling 4, a four-place airplane born out of the South African Sling LSA, have become bogged down in some red tape in ... Los Angeles.

Sling 4

The Airplane Factory, based in Johannesburg, South Africa, is making the attempt to show off its latest airplane. After a long flight from Hawaii, they arrived in southern California late last week, and had planned to continue their journey Tuesday morning. But a late change in route raised some concerns on the part of the FAA, and so as of Wednesday, they were still on the ground.

The team determined that a more southern route would be a better bet than heading across North America (and the U.S.) before the final ocean crossing back to the African continent ... a decision reportedly made after an arm-wrestling contest. "So now it's Baja then Acapulco (Mexico), San Jose (Costa Rica), Bogota (Columbia), Manaus, Rio and Recife (Brazil), Accra (Ghana), Pointe Noire (Republic of Congo) and Johannesburg (South Africa)," company co-founder and pilot James Pitman wote on The Airplane Factory blog. "Mike (Blyth, the other co-founder) reckoned the southern route has better weather but Jean's not going to Brazil without seeing Rio de Janeiro. Hhhmmmm. Unfortunately Jean (d'Assonville, the other pilot) got the better of Mike on the arm wrestle that resolved that little route planning difference, so they'll be able to send us shots of sugar loaf mountain in the next few days."

Sling 4 Circumnavigation New Route (purple)  

But they had difficulty getting permission to leave the U.S. "OK, my turn to deal with the bureaucracy … although we made application to fly from Torrance to Brown Field where we would exit the USA into Mexico the powers that be seemed to miss that part and issued us flight authorization but not to Brown Field," Blyth wrote Tuesday. "We were fueled and loaded up, flight plan about to be filed, customs paperwork for the flight already submitted … when the FAA called and said, sorry, you can't go - do a new application. Maybe they got confused because of our change of route …So, sorry to say, but our departure is delayed until tomorrow (Wednesday). Mike."

As of Wednesday morning, the team was still having difficulty getting its authorization, but was hoping to be able to depart at some point during the day.

Stay tuned.



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