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
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
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 Taiwan, normally found
in motorbikes.
Who said Nigerians ain’t got talents? All hail