Nepal's First Aircraft Flies

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Eight engineering students of the Pulchowk Engineering Campus Institute of Engineering in Kathmandu formed Danfe Aircraft Fabrication Group and used $12,500 worth of locally available materials (plus a Rotax) to build Nepal's first aircraft, dubbed Danfe. The two-seat aircraft -- Nepal's first aircraft -- has a maximum takeoff weight of 880 pounds and successfully flew Saturday at Pokhara city. Danfe most closely resembles an ultralight trike, is powered by a 65-hp Rotax 582 and was actually built last year based on two years of research and development as an academic project, but the aircraft only received permission to fly last week. Lacking local pilots, the group allowed a Russian pilot the honor of first flight. The ride reportedly lasted a little more than one minute and was witnessed by a crowd of onlookers that included the Minister of Science and Technology. After the flight, the minister declared that the government would cover research and design expenses, and would immediately create a fund for research and development in science and technology.