If all goes according to plan, this week Gabriel Nderitu will join the ranks of aviation history by becoming the first Kenyan to achieve flight with a homemade airplane. The 42-year-old, like the Wright brothers before him, isn't a professional engineer or a pilot -- in fact, he works in IT. But after months of studying airplane design and almost a year of tinkering on his humble plane, Gabriel now hopes to fulfill his childhood dream of flyingHis homemade aircraft, weighing in at around 1,700 pounds, may look less than air-worthy, but Gabriel is hopeful that, despite its crude appearance, it will fly. The two-seater plane was pieced together with sheets of metal, some parts ordered specially for the project, and a Toyota engine to drive its 72-inch wooden propeller. Studying the designs of existing prop-planes, and gathering some helpful tips from the internet, helped the novice-airplane engineer craft his plane from scratch.
Gabriel enlisted the help of some metal-workers to put the finishing touches on the plane leading up to the maiden flight. As locals gather to marvel at his rickety-looking creation, Gabriel is humble in speaking of what drove him to see his dream realized.
"Maybe it was a missed career which I'm trying to recreate," he says in an interview with Kenya's CitizenTV.
Despite his uncommonly inventive spirit, Gabriel isn't the first in his nation to attempt such an ambitious and risky undertaking. According to the report, two Kenyans had tried there hands at home-made aviation before, but were unsuccessful in achieving flight. So, if Gabriel manages to gain even modest altitude in his plane, he'll be flying straight into the record-books.
But, for all his efforts over the course of the year it took him to build the plane, Gabriel has managed to keep things in perspective.
If a guy says that 'I want to build and aircraft', it seems like he's from the moon, or from somewhere. And if that happens, if it at least lifts off -- even if it is three feet -- it shows that you have gone somewhere.
While one Kenyan IT worker's ambition to fly may seem like nostalgia in a world where professionally built jumbo-jets transport thousands of passengers every day, his story is less about lifting a homemade plane off the ground and more about elevating the realm of possibility. After all, perhaps a better, more sustainable future is possible in a world where, with common materials, some elbow grease, and a little dedication, anyone can fulfill their dreams.
Via Popular Science
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