19-27 August 2009

4th September 2009 - Live Q&A Session

Our live Q&A session went very well with nearly 1200 viewers following the broadcast. Thank you to everyone who participated.

For those of you who missed it, you can go to www.justin.tv/airplanefactory to view the broadcast. Just have a look beneath the main broadcast area on this page, and you will see a block where you can click to view more archived videos, where our past Q&A broadcast has been saved to.

Right-Click here and select Save Target As to download the Podcast of the Q&A Broadcase (72MB)

2nd September 2009 - Live Q&A Session on Friday the 4th of September

Great News! Great News! Mike & James will be doing an hour-long live Question & Answer session on the website homepage on Friday the 4th of September at 16:00 SA local time (14:00 UTC). Interested viewers are welcome to send them questions and messages via a specially set up broadcast page which all internet users will be able to access. You will also have the opportunity to view Mike & James while they answer as many of your questions as possible.

29th of August 2009 - Arrival Video by Dave Reid

Thank you to Dave Reid for this excellent video showing more of Mike & James' arrival back at Springs Airfield, Johannesburg on Thursday the 27th of August.


29th of August 2009 - Bethlehem Airshow

Mike & James will be at the Bethlehem airshow today...so if you missed them at Springs Airfield on the day of their return, do not miss out on this great day of aviation fun at Bethlehem.


27th of August 2009 - The Arrival Party

It was a very emotional welcome when Mike & James arrived back in Johannesburg airspace while flying in formation with some trikes, aircraft and helicopters. True to style, they did not fail to entertain the people as they did a few fly-overs before touchdown, and found themselves greeted by two gentleman in their birthday suits running ahead of the Sling while holding the South African flags high. Below are some of the video clips from their arrival.

Please check back during the next few weeks for more photos and video clips we have not seen before, and also Mike & James' log on the whole expedition.





27th of August 2009 - Arrival back home in Johannesburg!

Mike & James arrived back at Springs Airfield, Johannesburg at 14:30 SA local time (12:30 UTC) after flying for 40 days, visiting 13 countries, and covering a distance of approximately 45,150km in the Sling light sports aircraft which they had built with their team at The Airplane Factory. Thank you to everyone who met them at KMIA in Nelspruit, as well as everyone who came through to welcome them back home at Springs Airfield, and also to all of you who sent messages through our website and Facebook.


Mike & James will be interviewed by Radio 702 in South Africa just after 16:00 SA local time today, so remember to go to http://www.702.co.za/pages/onair/tunein.asp to listen to the interview.


Mike & James will also be flying through to the Bethlehem Air Show on Saturday, so for those of you who missed them today, make sure you don't miss the airshow.


Just like us in the office, we are sure that everybody who followed this adventure, will be waiting in anticipation for the DVD of Mike & James' adventure. So check back regularly for log updates, additional photos and video clips, and make sure you add yourself to The Airplane Factory mailing list by going to the www.airplanefactory.co.za main website.

 27th of August 2009 - Arrival on South African soil!

Mike & James have arrived safely at Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (KMIA) in Nelspruit, after flying for just over 19 hours to complete the 3,460km leg from the Seychelles. They will depart later in order to arrive at Springs Airfield at 14:00 SA local time (12:00 UTC) in Johannesburg.


26th of August 2009 - Mike & James' log

We're sitting having breakfast on the verandah of our guesthouse on the Beau Vallons beach in Seychelles. Just 5 hours to take off for Kruger Mpumalanga International. The weather here is much better than it was yesterday - bright blue sky with a few puffy, kissey kind of cumulus clouds, a light cool breeze and generally just as good for staying and swimming as for flying. Anyhow, our weather reporter, Tim, with the input of the Exeter weather gurus and the Cape Town International Met Office, put it like this - All good. You're in for a bumpy one though and some headwind 160-180 deg. Get high for lighter wind 5-10 kts. After a while will get str cu cloud from 2500 to 8000.Best to stay above if poss. Will be bumpy but pick up high alt tailwind 030/15kt from 13 deg s. Once over land drop low for n surface winds. No sig wx. The ts around you are behind you to n. Viva! Titus

The flight is about 1 880 nautical miles so should take 19 hours if there's no wind at all. That could change by quite a bit depending on head or tailwinds though. Our range is down from 24 to about 22,5 hours, since we're running the engine richer now, for the low altitude flying we've been doing from Indonesia onwards. (So if we're still flying close to midday tomorrow, SA time, you can start holding your breath). Planned arrival for Springs is at 1200Z 2708 (or 14h00 SA time, Thursday 27 August for non-pilots - having stopped to clear customs at Kruger Mpumalanga International of course). For the extreme skeptics amongst us, if we do arrive you can be sure that the earth is round, since we haven't flown with the compass pointing towards the eastern half of the rose at all since we left SA 39 days ago, except in the circuit of an airfield! If we don't, then of course the question remains open.

Anyhow, after a good long swim here we're going to catch a taxi into Victoria, buy some food and drinks for the flight, pay the landing and parking fees, file a flight plan, fill up with fuel, top up the oil, do a good pre-flight check, start up and off we go. We're very much looking forward to landing in familiar SA and seeing everyone again. Please arrange good weather for the flight in, and cold beer for refreshment.

Signing off in a state of high excitement

James and Mike

25th of August 2009 - Fishing in the Seychelles and arrival times in SA

Mike and James sent us this video clip of a group of fishermen in the Seychelles.


Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (KMIA) will be Mike & James' first port of call back in South Africa on Thursday the 27th of August, in order for them to go through Customs. They will be at KMIA at approximately 11:30am SA local time (9:30 UTC), and will then fly shortly thereafter through to Springs Airfield, Johannesburg.

Arrival is expected to be 14:00 SA Local time (12:00 UTC) at Springs Airfield, Johannesburg. NO NEED FOR PARKING DVD's WILL BE ON SALE. "We'll be selling DVD's of our award winning documentary of our previous adventure at a discount to help pay some of the costs we've incurred in this trip. R100 per DVD. Satisfaction guaranteed."

Mike & James

25th of August 2009 - Message to the Colorado Grannies

Dear Colorado Island Beauties, its a great lift to have you girls so firmly behind us on our travels. Thanks for the lovely photograph on our website. At last we've taken a couple of days out on a paradise island to see some of the sights, but none as beautiful or exotic as the photo of you all dressed up island style.

Anyhow, we were without swimming trunks ourselves, so we bought the best we could and have had a couple of shots taken to send back to you. Hope you'll hang a copy on your wall and keep following our last leg, which we dedicate to you in Colorado.

With love and kisses, Michael John Blyth Esquire and James Andrew Lloyd Pitman - Knight of the Realm (to be, possibly)

24th of August 2009 - Second log from Seychelles

What a place. We’re ensconced in a beautiful little guest house called the "Beau Vallons Bungalows" right on the beach here in Beau Vallon, on the west coast of Mahe Island. (Anyone taking a family holiday in the Seychelles would be well advised to come stay here!). First night was in a much more formal hotel which we didn't really find to our taste and so we took a walk down the beach yesterday morning with our luggage to our current lodging. We're taking a well earned rest and doing lots of swimming in the luke-warm azure sea, as well as long walks and explorations. Just arranging to borrow a scooter from our hosts for an island tour later today or tomorrow and we're also looking forward to a scenic flight around these paradise islands.

Meanwhile, we'll be checking up on weather and, assuming no hurricanes or tornadoes, we'll depart Seychelles International for Kruger Mpumalanga International on Wednesday afternoon, to fly the 20 hour leg through the night. We'll depart there in turn at about 12h00 on Thursday to arrive at the Springs Airfield at about 14h00 Thursday afternoon (27 August, for the date challenged). We very much look forward to getting home to our beautiful country and friends and family, and we’d love to see anyone who can get away from work to welcome us home at the airfield.

J and M


22nd of August 2009 - Log from Seychelles

Phew – that was close! At some stage during this trip things had to get plain terrifying, and it finally happened last night. On the flight from Kuala Lumpur to Sri Lanka we were talking about the highs and lows of our trip and how we’ve struggled with the time and effort associated with the admin associated with trips like this. At most stops we spend the whole or most of a full day preparing for the next flight, and in some countries it’s particularly difficult. Even in Malaysia, we spent two hours trying to get into the airport at 3am, then waiting, after we’d taxied to the holding point, for permission to fly at lower than FL160 (16 000 feet) (our plane can’t go that high, especially with 300kg of additional fuel). Finally we had to return to the terminal building and wait for sunrise to fly at our chosen level.

Early in the Sri Lanka flight both of us expressed our desire to avoid having to go through all the admin associated with an international stop-over there. So pretty soon we came up with the idea of cutting that short by simply landing, paying the landing fees, buying fuel, some food, doing our toilet chores and simply taking off immediately for the Seychelles. After some discussion we settled on that. Oh yes, and doing an oil change, plug clean and engine check on the apron as well.

We landed in Colombo in rain and darkness, and while James ventured into the terminal building to make the payments, check weather, file a flight plan, buy food and so on, Mike did an oil change, plug clean, engine check and refuel, from 44 gallon drums, on the apron, in a storm and using a head-torch for light. It took 3 hours from landing to take-off. And that’s where the real trouble started.

We took off in the dark, in heavy rain, and we were exhausted already. Our weather specialists from Exeter, England had advised us to remain east of E75 degrees until at the equator, to avoid embedded storms, so we kept well left of the ideal track. Still, it poured cats and dogs for the first three hours and if our Voyagers had failed, it would have been a matter of minutes before we were in the ocean. We gritted our teeth, didn’t say much and just pretty much held thumbs. We couldn’t believe how much water had to be pouring into the intakes of the engine, but it just kept purring away. What an incredible experience.

When the dawn did eventually come, 8 hours into the flight, it was one of the most special dawns ever for both of us and we were rewarded with beautiful cloudscapes and a whole bunch of rainbows to left and right. Still, we were more than 1 000 nautical miles from our destination, and after a long night of non-stop headwinds, our instruments only gave us an 800 nautical mile range. We tried to climb to 9 000 foot to avoid the headwind, but it again increased to a constant 23 knots directly on the nose. So, while James took a short nap, Mike descended again to 4 500 feet and found a tail wind which followed us the whole way to the Seychelles.

Arriving at the Seychelles was another emotional moment and the airport staff were pleasant and interested. Now we’re quaffing a second beer each and finishing this off to send home before having a swim and hitting the sack. Every which way you look at it we’ve been hitting it hard – even without the weather on both the Sri Lanka and Seychelles legs, at landing we’d been flying for 32 of the last 35 hours. We deserve a break and we’re in recovery mode so that we’re strong for our arrival home on Thursday. Please don’t expect too many logs while we’re here in these Paradise Islands!


22nd of August 2009

Mike & James arrived at just after 12:00 SA local time ( 10:00 UTC) in the Seychelles, after making the decision to move on from Sri Lanka due to admin hassles they had there. Facing strong headwinds and some weather in the beginning, the guys took 17½ hours to complete the approximate 3,000km trip.

21st August 2009

Thanks to the vigilance of our website visitors, we were informed that the Sling is moving, and we were surprised to find out the Mike & James were already en-route to the Seychelles. Due to a lot of admin hassles the guys felt it best to push on, and are now currently on their way to cover a distance of approximately 3,005km to Mahe Island, Seychelles, which should take them nearly 19½ hours. There is some bad weather along the way, so we will most probably see them fly around those weather patterns. Their departure from Sri Lanka was at 18:30 UTC. Unfortunately the guys did not have any time to appreciate the beauty of Sri Lanka, but we do hope that they will have some proper time to rest on Mahe Island. View the video below to see why this island is such a prime tourist destination.


21st August 2009

Mike & James arrived in Sri Lanka at 12:00 SA local time ( 10:00 UTC) after facing some strong headwinds and bad weather along the way. This leg took them 17½ hours to complete, and they covered a distance of approximately 2,470km.

21st August 2009 - EAA Video of Mike, James & the Sling

View this excellent video made by Brady Lane from EAA, USA. It truly captures the spirit behind the Sling project and The Airplane Factory.

21st August 2009 - Departure from Kuala Lumpur

Mike & James departed at 01:00 SA local time ( 23:00 UTC) from Kuala Lumpur, and are now en-route to Sri Lanka, Colombo. This leg is expected to take between 13-14 hours to cover a distance of 2,470km to Colombo Bandaranayake International Airport. Bad weather has however been predicted for them along the way, so this could affect their arrival time in Sri Lanka.

Have a look at the video below to get a glimpse of this beautiful part of our world.

20th August 2009 - Kuala Lumpur


19th August 2009 - Photos of Balikpapan and their trip to Kuala Lumpur

Mike & James sent us some photos of their time in Balikpapan, as well as the trip to Kuala Lumpur. View the Gallery page to see all the photos.

19th August 2009 - Arrival in Kuala Lumpur

Mike & James arrived safely in Kuala Lumpur after adjusting their flight plan in order to avoid bad weather en-route to K.L. This leg took them 17½ hours to complete to cover an approximate distance of 2,075km. They will be spending a full day in Kuala Lumpur, and will depart on the 21st of August to Colombo.

19th August 2009 - Departure from Balikpapan

Mike & James departed from Balikpapan and are now heading towards Kuala Lumpur, Indonesia. This leg is expected to take nearly 10 hours and will cover a distance of approximately 1,755km.

Kuala Lumpur is the capital and largest city of Malaysia, and home to the very well-know Petronas Twin Towers. View a short tourism video promoting Malaysia below, to get an idea of this beautiful country Mike & James will be passing through.


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