Popular Mechanics (South Africa)
IDEAS TAKING FLIGHT
THE FIRST TIME I took a flight in a plane I was 12 years old. The experience is indelibly etched into my memory. My dad was headed off on a business trip from East London to Cape Town (yes, I’m originally a ‘Slummies’ boy), and surprised me by taking me along with him. I had my skateboard tucked under my arm when we boarded, and I could barely contain my excitement. As an extra treat, as we were nearing Cape Town, my dad asked the cabin crew if I could perhaps sit up front in the cockpit for the final approach – yes, the world was a different place in the early ’90s, when thick armourplated doors didn’t separate the pilots from the passengers. Soon, all wideeyed, I was strapped into the jump seat behind the pilots, with their millions of switches, lights and instruments, as well as the city’s tiny roofs filling my field of view.
Since then, I’ve taken countless flights, and although flying has always held a certain intrigue for me
(it’s remarkable that enormous wedges of metal can be propelled through the air), aviation didn’t ever really grab me. However, our cover story in this issue really struck a chord in me – Mike Ojo’s quest to build his own aircraft. I think it’s the process of creating something tangible that evolves into something remarkable (in this case, an object that flies!) is what resonated with me. It’s similar to the sense of accomplishment of having completed a special woodworking project, only on a much larger scale. Mike’s story became even more interesting when I discovered that the plane kit he used is made by a South African company, Sling Aircraft. It’s fantastic hearing about South African products that are leading the way in the international market.
Much of what we feature in Popular Mechanics is about innovation and creation, and this issue is no different. As always, we hope the stories between these pages inspire you or, at the very least, entertain you.