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Blog

Kenyan physics graduate builds aircraft via Wikipedia

By James Dacey

After studying physics at university and then moving into the computer hardware business, Nairobi inhabitant Gabriel Nderitu has now set his eyes truly skywards. He has cobbled together a 2-seater aircraft after reading about the principles of aeronautics on the internet.

In this special video report for Citizen TV Kenya, Nderitu describes his inspiration for the mission. “My boyhood interest was in aviation, so maybe it was a missed career that I’m trying to recreate or something,” he says.

The Kenyan aviator is currently applying the finishing touches to his craft, which will weigh in at 800 kg and is built around the engine of a Toyota NZE. Its wings are made from sheets of aluminium and attached to its nose is a 74 inch propeller that turns at 4000 rotations per minute. Construction began one year ago, with the help of 5 assistants, and it has cost just shy of $8000.

Nderitu tells the Guardian that in designing the craft he has downloaded roughly 5 GB of data, with Wikipedia serving as the main source of information. “It was a bit of a re-inventing the wheel – not really looking and trying to copy…it’s a matter of reading the science of it,” Nderitu tells Citizen TV Kenya.

However, despite all Nderitu’s hard work, the tale is not yet guaranteed its cheery Hollywood ending. It seems that all the media coverage surrounding the mission has also attracted the attention of the Kenyan Civil Aviation Authority, which has advised that Nderitu cease working on his plane. You can hear about this latest spanner in the works in this follow-up video report.

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