Behind The Sling Manufacturing
A very dynamic team has helped The Airplane Factory grow from strength to strength.
Mike BlythDirector - Development, Marketing and Operations
Mike, a shareholder and the person who started The Airplane Factory, is a fifth generation South African with a passion for aviation. A pioneer of early microlight aviation in South Africa, Mike has been involved in the aircraft business, designing, building and selling aircraft, aircraft engines and accessories, for 27 years. Mike is a past aviation world champion and has received numerous awards both for his contribution to aviation in South Africa and his aviation feats, as well as the films he has made to record them. To learn more about Mike’s aviation adventures see www.trike-expeditions.com and www.noneedforparking.com. Mike has owned the Rotax agency in South Africa for more than 25 years and is also the owner of Comet Aviation Supplies (www.cometaviationsupplies.co.za) based in Johannesburg.
The Airplane Factory is Mike’s latest, and he believes greatest, venture.
James PitmanDirector - Corporate
James, also a shareholder in The Airplane Factory, grew up on a farm in the Kwa-Zulu Natal midlands of South Africa. He is a qualified lawyer who completed a university degree in science prior to studying law. More recently James has worked as a VP of a mining exploration company listed in London and Toronto. Following the successful sale of the mining business, James was able to give expression to his love of flying by joining Mike as his business partner in The Airplane Factory.
At a young age James developed a deep love of the outdoors and adventure. He has also always been a keen sportsman and traveler. For background information on some of his more recent adventures see www.noneedforparking.com.
Jean d'AssonvilleDirector - Production
Jean, the third shareholder in The Airplane Factory, started his life in Pretoria and schooled at Pretoria Boys High where he excelled at bunking out to drag race motorbikes at Tarlton. After school he started a successful career racing motorbikes, while simultaneously working in the film industry to fund this first of his addictions. When he grew tired of the monotony of hurtling around a track at 200 kays an hour on two wheels he decided to join forces with John Bassi and start teaching people to fly trikes. This chapter of his life found him moving to Namibia for a couple of years to instruct and live free. Reality however caught up with him when he first experienced the joys of three axis flight and promptly moved to George to join the team at Jabiru working as their test pilot and safety inspector. During his time at Jabiru he saw 230 of them safely out of the door, resulting in him swearing that he would never build another commercial plane and retiring to the Karoo with Flight to live out his last days.
Unbeknown to Jean, Mike and James had other plans for him, and when they realised they needed to build the plane they had designed, in under six weeks and fly it around the world in 40 days they called him in. Jean has been Production Director of The Airplane Factory ever since. Sadly Flight has not come out of retirement......
Gareth BoschProduction manager and Avionics technician - Production
Gareth started his career as an apprentice aircraft electrical technician at Jabiru SA in 2005. Three years later he abandoned ship and headed north to Joburg to join the team at Denel Aviation, where he completed courses in aircraft wiring electrical, radio and instrumentation. Over the last seven years Gareth has amassed thousands of hours' worth of building experience on non-type certified aircraft including structure, engines and propellers. Gareth was initially employed at The Airplane Factory as our wiring technician and has subsequently been promoted to production manager, parts manufacturing and sub-assembly manager and electrical developement.
Gareth is approved by CAA to sign and stamp out our aircraft.
Terry MusikerEngineer - Aeronautical Engineering
Terry graduated in 2009 as an Aeronautical Engineer (BSc. Eng. (Aero.)) from The University of The Witwatersrand. During that period he acquired experience at Advanced Technologies and Engineering where he did a preliminary optimisation of a helicopter main rotor blade. In 2010 joined The Airplane Factory and has since then never looked back.
His role at the Airplane Factory is to utilise his knowledge acquired at university, and Computer Aided Design (CAD) Software, to design aircraft from the conceptual to the final product. This includes predicting the performance of a prototype aircraft, calculating the expected loads, designing each component to meet the standards of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), overseeing the static load testing, and submitting documentation for certification of the aircraft. Furthermore, he contributes to the ongoing updates and improvements of the construction manuals.
Andrew PitmanManager - Finance and Marketing
Andrew graduated from Cape Town Varsity College in 2002 with a degree in Business Management and Marketing. He moved to London the following year and joined Addison Corporate Marketing as an Account Manager and later Account Director and provided support to the investor relations teams of various clients including Anglo American, Vodafone, National Grid, The Premier League, Swiss Re, Uniq, Visa and WPP. With six years’ experience in corporate financial communications Andrew fled the UK and returned to South Africa to join The Airplane Factory as the accountant, and sales and marketing manager.