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  1. #1
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    Hans Mann's Avatar
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    Hope sky high for homemade Malawi helicopter



    It has never taken off, and could well be a death trap, but a homemade helicopter built in Malawi is drawing crowds captivated by its creator's determination to succeed against all the odds.

    Felix Kambwiri, 45, has spent the last four months constructing his dream machine out of scrap metal and fibreglass in his garage in the village of Gobede, 90 kilometres (55 miles) north of the capital Lilongwe.

    Clambering inside the one-seater cockpit, he swings the door closed, turns the key, pumps the pedals, and the 125-cc secondhand engine roars into life as orange lights flash impressively.

    The rotor blades, which nearly touch the workshop's walls, increase to a furious speed, as the whole chassis starts to shake violently -- but take-off remains elusive.

    "I would like just to fly for even five minutes to show that I am serious about this and that it is not a joke. This helicopter can fly," Kambwiri, a professional welder, told AFP.

    "Every day I receive many curious visitors who have heard about me."

    Kambwiri built the helicopter to his own design after failing to find any books to help fulfil his life's passion.

    But he has been warned that he should not undertake any test flights until the civil aviation authorities have completed safety checks.

    "Police regularly come here to monitor progress and make sure I don't fly without permission," he explained, adding that he hopes to be airborne by June.

    "I can understand their concern is about my safety, and that of people who might come in their hundreds on the day I fly the helicopter.

    "I will not take risks. I will wait until I am ready. I cannot allow anyone to take the risk for fear of an accident."

    - 'Show the world' -

    The helicopter is painted white with red and blue stripes, and has plastic windows, landing skids and a second rotor blade on its tail.

    Kambwiri, who left school aged 16, has spent about $350 on the project, including $100 on its converted motorbike engine, which he hopes to upgrade if a donor comes forward with extra funds.

    "Although I did not go far with school, I have tried my best. I want to show the world that we Malawians can do something and are intelligent," he said.

    "Some people coming here say I have gone mad, that this helicopter will kill me, or cannot fly because I am not educated.

    "My imagination about building a helicopter grew when I began welding as a job," said the former tailor and radio repairman.

    Among those who come to inspect progress are students from the local school who peer into the workshop as Kambwiri and his team of assistants, including an electrician, tinker with wiring.

    His ambitious plan dates back to when he was a young boy and saw then president Hastings Kamuzu Banda flying around the country for campaign rallies and to visit remote villages.

    Kambwiri, married and father of seven children, also credits his enthusiasm for flight to watching war movies and listening to radio programmes.

    Despite initial concerns, Kambwiri's wife Annes said she backs his efforts.

    "I was frightened when I first heard that my husband was developing a helicopter because he had never done it before," she told AFP.

    "Later I accepted it, because everything is possible through God."

    Hope sky high for homemade Malawi helicopter

  2. #2
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    Headworx's Avatar
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    What could possibly go wrong?

  3. #3
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    Is that a traffic cone on the rear?

  4. #4
    R.I.P.

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    All safety features including ejector seat.

  5. #5
    disturbance in the Turnip baldrick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by barrylad66
    Is that a traffic cone on the rear?
    it is a malawian bumpet

  6. #6
    Thailand Expat Pragmatic's Avatar
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    It doesn't appear to have a tail rotor.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pragmatic View Post
    It doesn't appear to have a tail rotor.

    Maybe he can have the MASH song "Suicide is Painless" playing on a loudspeaker when he tries to fly that thing. No way it can have controlled flight without a tail rotor.

  8. #8
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    Powered by a converted motor bike engine, wouldn't mind seeing a few diagrams or pics on that conversion .

  9. #9
    disturbance in the Turnip baldrick's Avatar
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    I am guessing that the tail rotor will be a manual affair

    the co pilot will sit on the traffic cone and hand crank a pedastal fan

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hans Mann
    she backs his efforts.
    .

  11. #11
    Gohills flip-flops wearer
    withnallstoke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by baldrick
    the co pilot will sit on the traffic cone and hand crank a pedastal fan
    Sounds like a job for which i may be suitable.

  12. #12
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    10 points for trying, but seriously is he all there? I would be happy to fly him to Australia and take him up for a few spins in a real machine but seeing as it is now 9 weeks and counting trying to get my niece a visa from Thailand just to come for a holiday for 6 weeks I don't like my chances.
    News is what someone, somewhere is trying to suppress - everything else is just advertising.

  13. #13
    En route
    Cujo's Avatar
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    Reminds me of this guy.
    But maybe not as successful.
    William Kamkwamba (born August 5, 1987) is a Malawian innovator, engineer and author. He gained fame in his country when, in 2002, he built a windmill to power a few electrical appliances in his family's house in Wimbe (20 miles east of Kasungu) using blue gum trees, bicycle parts, and materials collected in a local scrapyard.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Kamkwamba

  14. #14
    Thailand Expat
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    ...125-cc secondhand engine...

    ...but take-off remains elusive...
    Still should get an A for optimism and a B for perserverence

  15. #15
    Thailand Expat AntRobertson's Avatar
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    Good for him I say.

    It'll probably end in horrific death by decapitation or some such, but good for him for giving it a go!

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by MeMock View Post
    10 points for trying, but seriously is he all there? I would be happy to fly him to Australia and take him up for a few spins in a real machine but seeing as it is now 9 weeks and counting trying to get my niece a visa from Thailand just to come for a holiday for 6 weeks I don't like my chances.
    I have enjoyed watching on YouTube a series of filming in the Outback by "Clinton Anderson " Outback adventure
    Really good filming of Aussie chopper flying

  17. #17
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    Yeah those R22's are impressive machines when it comes to mustering. Never heard of this Clinton Anderson bloke - but will check him out. Thanks.

  18. #18
    Philippine Expat Davis Knowlton's Avatar
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    A for effort. RIP.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by AntRobertson View Post
    Good for him I say.

    It'll probably end in horrific death by decapitation or some such, but good for him for giving it a go!
    Indigenous ingenuity!!


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