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

be­fore land­ing.”

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.

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