My husband is an adrenaline junkie who has a particular love of anything that has wings and he can fly, so I get to meet all sorts of really interesting and often eccentric people (like him) who do, quite frankly, rather dangerous, but fascinating things with their lives.
I just stepped off the airplane from Cannes and was spirited away to a charity fundraiser for the first South African who is going to compete in the Red Bull X-Alpes, a non-stop extreme adventure challenge in Europe. It was here that I met James Pitman, who isn’t going to the X-Alpes, but has a great adventure of his own coming up. James and his partner Mike Blythe exemplify to me the great spirit of entrepreneurship and adventure, which is uniquely South African. They have built and intend to fly a prototype Sling aircraft from Johannesburg, South Africa, to the Oshkosh Airventure Airshow, in Wisconsin USA, in July this year. The Sling, they say is a new light sport aircraft developed in a forge of passion and careful thought, her creators’ brief being to develop the world’s most practical and desirable light sport aircraft. The two adventurers will return to Johannesburg by continuing their journey west, circumnavigating the globe en route. The journey, including 6 days in Oshkosh, is planned to take place over approximately one calendar month, commencing on 15 July and returning on 17 August 2009.
In my earlier days as Publisher of Out There magazine, a magazine for adventure enthusiasts, I met Mike Blythe. Indeed we awarded him the title of Adventurer of the Year for his extraordinary aviation pursuits, so it didn’t surprise me that he was still committed to a life of thrills in the sky. His partner James is an ex-lawyer and mining investor - also following his passion of science, creation and aviation.
Theirs is a story to inspire - South Africans challenging new frontiers, creating homemade machines and having the courage to follow their dreams and I for one am going to follow these chaps on their global adventure at http://www.airplanefactory.co.za/. Hopefully I can persuade them to Tweet along the way…