Nigerian undergraduate builds a helicopter in his backyard
By Emma Anya with agency report
A 24-year-old Nigerian , Mr. Mubarak Muhammad Abdullahi, has shed light on how he successfully built a four-seater helicopter in the back yard of his parents in Kano, Kano State.
Mubarak Muhammad Abdullahi, a 24-year-old physics undergraduate in northern Nigeria, takes old cars and motorbikes to pieces in the back yard at home and builds his own helicopters from the parts.
Abdullahi, a Physics undergraduate at the Bayero University, Kano, said parts of the materials for the helicopter came from the carcass of the Boeing 747 which crashed near Kano in 2002.
Other parts, he said, were pieces of old cars and motorbikes and aluminium purchased with a donation from his father and personal savings.
â€œIt took me eight months to build the chopper,â€ the Agence France Presse quoted him as saying in a report on Monday.
The chopper, which has flown briefly on six occasions, is powered by a second-hand 133 horsepower Honda Civic car engine. It is kitted out with seats from an old Toyota saloon car.
The cockpit consists of a push-button ignition, an accelerator lever between the seats which controls vertical thrust, a joystick that provides balance and bearing.
A small screen on the dashboard connects to a camera underneath the helicopter for ground vision, a set of six buttons adjusts the screenâ€™s brightness while a small transmitter is used for communication.
â€œYou start it, allow it to run for a minute or two and you then shift the accelerator forward and the propeller on top begins to spin. The further you shift the accelerator the faster it goes and once you reach 300 rmp you press the joystick and it takes off,â€ Abdullahi explained from the cockpit.
The chopper , measuring 12 metres (39 feet) long, seven metres high and five metres wide is considered a big for a four seater aircraft . It has never attained an altitude of more than seven feet.
As he filled the radiator of the banana yellow helicopter which he parks in the grounds of the BUK, Abdullahi said Nigerians were yet to see his best.
He is almost completing work on a smaller helicopter-a two-seater- which he disclosed, is radically different from the first in terms of â€˜sophistication and aesthetics.â€™
Currently just a spindly metal frame in the back yard, the new helicopter will be able to fly at an altitude of 15 feet for three hours at a stretch.
It will be powered by a brand new motor engine.
Abdullahi, who also repairs computers and mobile phones, learned the rudiments of flying a helicopter from the Internet and first got the idea of building one from action films.
He said,â€œI watch action movies a lot and I was fascinated by the way choppers fly. I decided it would be easier to build one than to build a car.â€
The undergraduate whose father teaches at the BUK, hopesâ€” and still does hope â€” that Nigerian would one day stop importation of aircraft.
But this,according to him, can only be possible if the Federal Government and wealthy Nigerians come to his aid.
So far, however, governmentâ€™s response to his innovation has been underwhelming.
Although some government officials got very excited when they saw him conduct a demonstration flight in Katsina State, the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority has so far shown no interest in his aircraft.