Gabriel Nderitu, Kenyan Homebuilt Aircraft Manufacturer

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An I.T. specialist in Kenya, Gabriel Nderitu, spent six months researching aircraft on the Internet and one year building what he hopes may become a true Kenyan homebuilt flying machine. 42-year-old Nderitu cites a boyhood interest in aviation and says, “So maybe it was a missed career, which I’m trying to re-create.” He employed five men to help with welding and assembly. In the end, Nderitu mounted a Toyota engine to his modular airframe. The strutted wing and ailerons are skinned with aluminum sheet. The engine itself turns up to 4,000 rpm, driving a 74-inch wooden propeller through a simple reduction belt drive. Nderitu says “a bit of it was a bit of reinventing the wheel … not really looking and trying to copy.” The aircraft is not yet finished and there is no guarantee Nderitu’s craft will ever be licensed, or allowed to fly, or that it is even capable of flight (which seems unlikely). But that may not be the point.

Nderitu hopes to complete the airplane “whether it flies or not.” As a longstanding dream, he says he just wants to “get it out of my mind, then I can do something else.” Whatever it achieves, the craft may serve as inspiration. “If a guy says that ‘I want to build an aircraft’ it seems like he’s from the moon, or from somewhere. And if it happens, if it at least lifts off, even if it is three feet, it shows that you have gone somewhere.”