- Posted June 13, 2012 by
A SINGLE SEAT AIRCRAFT BEING BUILT IN FRONT YARD, KENYA
Separately I am engaged in a personal challenge of research, design, and construction of a light single seat aircraft in Kenya. My first model which is now discarded but partially preserved was powered by a Toyota engine. Initial approach was to build as much as possible. The endeavor or the aviation bug struck around year 2007 when I bought the Toyota engine for the first model. After two years of progress the first field tests were done around October 2010. There were many troubles with weight and engine power.
After the difficulties with this model I wanted to give up but later I decided to not to. I embarked on some more lighter and slightly better designs. The approach here changed, I opted to import a couple of important parts, the engine and propeller . I also opted to use remote control in testing some designs. The remote control system which consists of a transmitter, receiver and heavy duty linear servos was imported from USA. The remote control system I designed is able to start and switch off engine, move rudder aileron and elevator.
In June 2012 I have designed and built what I hope to be a viable design. It is a single seat model called UPENDO (which means love in Swahili language commonly spoken in Kenya). This model is nearly complete and some ground taxi tests will be done in a weeks’ time. Some almost to scale artistic views of the design are included. Once painted we should be able to take good photos of the same. The engine is Hirth f33 28 Hp imported from USA and manufactured in Germany. The propeller is factory made 55 inches diameter with 17 degrees pitch blocks imported from USA. There is a backup wooden propeller. The engine rotates at 6000 rpm with a 2.5 to 1 belt reduction drive with the propeller turning at about 2100 rotations per minute. The wings are wooded framed covered with ply wood and painted. Wing span is 26 ft wing area is 122 square feet length is 20 ft .weight is 250 kg. The design is STOL. Short takeoff and landing and should lift off in about 200 ft. Much of the research was internet based. I researched basic Aviation science regarding light fixed wing aircrafts. I also downloaded specifications of several models of light aircraft to qualify the science. This was from the 1940s piper J3 to kits such as zenith CH701. Two dimension C.A.D software is used to draw precise drawings.
The fabrication process takes place at the front yard of my former small house turned into a workshop. This is at Kahawa west suburb of Nairobi city ,Kenya two kilometers from the gate of Kamiti maximum prison. I have basic tools. A welding machine, portable drill and grinder. Riveting gun and assorted spanners.
From childhood I wanted to know how aircrafts work and developed interest in aviation engineering. Eventually I didn’t head in that direction but the enthusiasm and fascination with aircrafts didn’t die.
I don’t intend to get into a career in the aviation industry at this point in my life and , the purposes of this project is to inspire research in Kenya and Africa and also encourage young students to challenge themselves and to take education seriously. Africa is progressing but is still challenged in many ways from issues with good governance, poverty, infrastructure, Health, Mass unemployment, HIV, Drugs and access to universal education. One way to solve this is to encourage and affirm the right of every child to be educated and attain a professional course. And to encourage governments to take science and technology seriously as ththis is the driver of manufacturing which again in my opinion is a great generator of jobs. I also believe that It’s possible that in future Kenya may be able to produce indigenous aircrafts.