There is an old saying that goes “The helicopter is a fine way to travel, but it induces a view of the world that only God and CEOs share on a regular basis.” What this quote basically means is that you`ve got to be very spiritual or very rich to be able to afford a helicopter ride. Not so true for a young unemployed man from South Africa who decided to follow his dreams and build his own helicopter.
Vusimuzi Mbatha, 35, originally from a very small town called Libode in the Eastern Cape, said he became fascinated with helicopters after he had had a dream of himself flying one.
“One day I had a simple dream. I dreamt I was controlling a helicopter. The dream vividly repeated on another day and I decided to follow it.”
He then started to buy parts bit by bit and used scrap metal to build his helicopter. Today, Vusimusi`s giant helicopter stands proud in front of his shack, attracting locals to take a look at the giant machine with a roaring engine.
What`s interesting about this guy is that he only went to school up to grade 7. At school, he was always interested in science but could not further his education due to financial constraints.
“It was easy to build this helicopter because I only followed what I had seen in the dream.”
Keep it tight…
Another interesting fact about Vusi is that, when building his machine, he played his cards very closely to his chest. No one knew about his special project until it was finished. A neighbor of his, Kgositsile Lumko said:
“We did not see it until today. All we heard was the roar of an engine and rotating rotor. We are surprised. We never expected something like this to come from our area. This guy is talented. Government needs to help him to take his dream further.”
The problem with many of us is that we share our great ideas too soon. This can be hugely fatal to our dreams. We can fall prey to very damaging criticism or to professional idea thieves who suddenly begin to get all the recognition and accolades for our great works. The most successful artists, writers, mathematicians, and entrepreneurs are all like closed books. Keep it tight.
Inside the helicopter…
The interior of the helicopter has a two way radio, a television set and a clock situated on the back of a seat.
“The clock helps me to know what time the flight took place and what time I return.”
The cockpit is built out of soft drink crates. A fire extinguisher is located on the left side of the helicopter. The helicopter stands on a four-wheeled trolley built out of scrap metal. The steering wheel is made from a PlayStation control. There is also a clutch and an accelerator.
The tail has a green and a red light that flashes at night. The helicopter is petrol powered and a motorbike battery is used to propel the rotor. The rotor hub is housed in an old soft drink crate.
Ready to take off?
But in spite of all that innovation Vusi is not yet fully satisfied:
“The helicopter is incomplete, there are some parts that I have to put in. The challenge is the money. I am not working and depend on odd jobs to build this helicopter.”
Once he gets all the remaining parts he needs, he says he would like to call on experienced pilots or aviation experts to inspect his helicopter before he can take his home-built helicopter on its maiden flight.
“Flying is dangerous. I want the helicopter to be inspected for safety before I can fly.”
If the African economy is to successfully fight the problem of unemployment, then young people like Vusi must be fully supported and encouraged to follow their dreams. As young aviation enthusiasts, we have proven that we have the ideas, the skills and the passion. Now we are calling on our governments and the investor community to incentivize skill development so that we can be able to grow viable projects.
Yes We Can Fly!