A flying start to retirement
IT TOOK 850 hours, 2500 individual parts and 17,000 rivets, but Elio Zambelli's Sling ultralight aircraft has passed the aviation mark with flying colours.
Building the aircraft was a passion project for Mr Zambelli, merging his love for flying with his skill and background in mechanics.
"I've always wanted to fly," he said.
"I was building model planes when I went to school and I kept that up."
Mr Zambelli's professional background was as a mechanic in Lismore specialising in large machinery, such as trucks and tractors.
"I used to go out to the west and service commercial vehicles because we only sold heavy commercial vehicles and there was no one out there," he said.
"So I bought an aircraft and went out twice a week with staff and service vehicles out around Moree and Gunnedah."
The Northern Rivers Aero Club pilot now has more than four decades of aviation under his belt.
Mr Zambelli said after retirement, he was looking for a way to keep his brain active.
"So I bought a kit, an Italian kit, and built that first, it was a high wing," he said. "And after that I couldn't get used to high wing so I sold it and got this kit here and built it.
"I wasn't game to do the test flight and Bill (Kiernan) said 'it's not a problem' so he did the first hour or so on it and then I took over after that."
Mr Zambelli's Sling was one of the many aircraft on display at the recent Aviation Unlimited Information Expo at the Lismore Aviation Centre.