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Sling 2 - a good training aircraft?

Cessna's and Pipers have stood the test of time when it comes to training newbies to learn to fly. They can be smacked on the ground pretty hard and come up for air with only minor bruising, (a weeping oleo, slight shudder in the undercarriage, a nose wheel shimmy - all things we learn to live with and work around). They are tough, sturdy machines.

The popular two seater trainer Cessna 150 and C152 are now no longer built. You can only get them second-hand. The purchase price of a new four seater C172 makes my eyes water! But then, with daring Marketing, and even more daring proof flights, our South African boys brought a new light aircraft to the market... the Sling 2!

Built at Tedderfield, to the South West of Jo'burg, these fantastic, delicate yet sturdy, responsive, speedy, economical little wonders of the sky, have materialized into a very popular private and training aircraft, for both Light Sport flying and for those working towards their Private Pilot License and on to Commercial flying.

You must realise one thing... maintaining a Sling as a private owner is an entirely different kettle of fish to maintaining a Sling (or any aircraft), on a flight school. I will never understand why insurance companies will insure the same aircraft for a private owner for one third of the price they charge for the same aircraft on a flight school. Statistics show that flight schools are low risk compared to private owners! Maintenance costs are also ramped up for flight schools, in our experience, to between double and triple that of a private owner. So perhaps student pilots now have an insight as to why flight training is so damn costly!

I have spent many an hour listening to the dulcet drone of an experienced (we won't say "old") pilot, singing the praises of the C150 and slamming the Sling as a training aircraft. But being the one who has been flying both, I can confidently report that the Sling 2, with the same weight and same horsepower as the C150, outperforms its older cousin akin to the grace of a dancer outperforming an overweight jogger. There simply is no comparison.

We get so much more done in a lesson. Yes the flight student does not benefit from learning to fly a sluggish overweight aircraft, so is not prepared for Charter Flight with their fresh PPL, but then a PPL may not fly Charter anyway! The purpose of ab initio training is to introduce one to the subtleties and hidden secrets of flight, (which will reveal themselves slowly, and over time, like a delicious secret being slowly unravelled- hence the saying that the PPL is a license to learn). The lessons about flying a lumbering bumblebee packed to capacity comes later on... with the Commercial Pilot License.

The Sling is light, modern and responsive. It is also new. Like anything new, it has to be tested in the field and will always have aspects to improve, but it certainly has my vote as a flight trainer and a personal aircraft!


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