Pakistani pilot makes his own plane
A man from a small village in Pakistan lived his dream by building his own working plane from scrap parts
IT LOOKS like it can barely move at all, let alone get off the ground. The engine is made from a machine that cuts up tar roads, the wings are constructed from canvas and the wheels are taken from a rickshaw. Oh, and the person who built this contraption is a popcorn seller. Not exactly cutting-edge aviation, in other words – yet this machine confounded everyone when it took off and flew a metre above the ground for about two kilometres.
And in doing so, Muhammad Fayyaz’s lifelong dream of flying came true.
“I was literally in the air,” he told The Telegraph. “I couldn’t feel anything else.”
Muhammad has now become a sensation in his home country, Pakistan, and an inspiration to millions after refusing to let poverty and a lack of education dampen his dreams.
Ever since he can remember, the 32-year-old from Tabur in central Punjab province wanted to join the air force but he had to abandon that plan when his dad died.
His family had no money so he dropped out of school in Grade 8 and took piecemeal jobs to help put food on the table for his mother and five younger siblings.
But Muhammad couldn’t shake his determination to fly. He taught himself the principles of flight by watching National Geographic Channel’s Air Crash Investigation and modelled a light aircraft on blueprints he found online using a computer in a cheap internet café.
He supplemented his popcorn profits by taking on a second job as a security guard, sold a piece of family land and took out a 50 000-rupee (R10 500) loan from a micro-finance NGO, which he’s still paying off.
And now, two years after starting work on his plane, Muhammad has made his first flight.
HIS friends helped him seal off a small road to use as a runway and one pal, Ameer Hussain, rode alongside the plane on a motorcycle. “It was between two and two- and- a- half feet ( 60- 75cm) off the ground,” Ameer told AFP.
“It f lew for about two to three kilometres
Muhammad then planned a public debut to prove he could pilot his plane. Hundreds of people flocked to his home to see him take off – but then disappointment struck.
Before he could start the engine, police arrived and arrested him, confiscating his plane as they thought it posed a safety threat.
Muhammad was later released on a 3 000-rupee (R600) fine. The plane he had painstakingly built was returned to him, where it now stands in the courtyard of his home.
“I’m reassembling my plane and hopefully will be able to do it in a couple of months,” Muhammad says.
“The civil aviation authority is in contact with me and has promised to provide a proper space for takeoff and landing for the next
BELOW and BELOW LEFT: Muhammad Fayyaz recently took to the skies in his home-made plane. The Pakistani popcorn seller taught himself about aircraft engineering by watching National Geographic channel’s Air Crash Investigation.
The aircraft’s engine is made from a machine that cuts up tar roads, the wings are constructed from canvas and the wheels are from a rickshaw.