Teenagers Fly across South Africa Using Homemade Plane

Category: Human Interest


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. take a shot at (something) / teɪk ə ʃɒt ət / (idiom) – to attempt to do something

    This might be risky, but I’m taking a shot at investing in his company.

  2. expedition / ˌɛk spɪˈdɪʃ ən / (n) – an organized journey

    The hikers are preparing for another expedition to unexplored caves next week.

  3. manufacture / ˌmæn yəˈfæk tʃər / (v) – to produce something commercially

    The company manufactures automobile parts.

  4. life skill / ˈlaɪf ˌskɪl / (n) – a skill that helps someone deal well with emotional or social situations

    Effective communication and critical thinking are very important life skills.

  5. poverty-stricken / ˈpɒv ər tiˌstrɪk ən / (adj) – in a state of extreme poverty

    The charitable organization helps families from poverty-stricken communities.


Read the text below.

A group of South African teenagers has successfully built a homemade airplane and is now taking a shot at flying it from Cape Town, South Africa, to Cairo, Egypt.

The whole expedition is being led by 17-year-old Megan Werner. She established the U-Dream Global, a non-profit organization that aims to encourage young people to reach for their dreams and discover their true passions. Through her organization, Werner held an audition for teenagers who want to join the expedition.

Out of 1,000 applicants, Werner selected 19 teenagers to help her build the homemade airplane. For three weeks, the teenagers assembled the four-seater airplane from an aircraft kit manufactured by The Airplane Factory, a South African company selling planes.

Six of the teenagers, including Werner, obtained a pilot’s license to fly the plane. They are set to journey 7,455 miles to Egypt for six weeks. The expedition will have various stops, some of which are in Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Kenya. Then, the teenage pilots will take a different route on the return journey.

To ensure the safety of the young pilots, professional pilots will fly alongside them during the expedition.

According to Werner, the goal of the expedition is to inspire the youth and teach them important life skills. She plans to meet people from poverty-stricken communities during their trip. She also wants to conduct motivational talks for young people after the expedition.

Despite the advocacy, the expedition’s announcement has drawn mixed reactions from the public. According to one of the teenage pilots, people from her community were skeptical about the project at first but later on became very supportive of her.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• In your opinion, is having professional pilots flying alongside the teenagers enough to ensure their safety? Discuss.
• If you were given the chance, would you also join an expedition on a homemade plane like that of the U-Dream Global? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• Do you believe that anything can be done if one is determined to do it? Why or why not?
• What is one thing that you are very determined to achieve right now? Discuss.