Vol No: 83,
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THE AFRICAN STRUGGLE - Nigerian builds a helicopter out of old car and bike parts

A 24-YEAR-OLD undergraduate from Nigeria is building helicopters out of old car and bike parts.

Mubarak Muhammed Abdullahi, a physics student, spent eight months building the yellow model seen here, using the money he makes from repairing cellphones and computers. While some of the parts have been sourced from a crashed 747, the chopper contains all sorts of surprises.

The 12-meter-long aircraft, which has never flown above a height of seven feet, is powered by a secondhand 133 horsepower engine from a Honda Civic. In the basic cockpit there are two Toyota car seats, with a couple more in the cabin behind. Controls are simple, with an ignition button, an accelerator lever to control vertical thrust and a joystick that provides balance and bearing.

A camera beneath the chopper connected to a small screen on the dash gives the pilot ground vision, and he communicates via a small transmitter.

Mubarak says he learned the basics of helicopter flying through the internet after he decided it would be easier to build a chopper than a car. Flying his creation is easy, he claims. "You 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," he explains. "The further you shift the accelerator the faster it goes and once you reach 300 rpm you press the joystick and it takes off."

Undeterred that his home-made transporter, which lives in a hangar on campus, lacks the gear to measure atmospheric pressure, altitude and humidity, Mubarak is working on a new machine which "will be a radical improvement on the first one in terms of sophistication and aesthetics."

A two-seater with the ability to fly at 15 feet for three hours at a time, Mubarak's new creation will be powered by a brand-new motor straight from a motor bike.

 

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