Mubarak Muhammad Abdullahi is a Nigerian born in 1983. In 2007, at 24, this young undergraduate student in physics built a helicopter using pieces from old cars, motorbikes and aluminum scrap, among others.
Abdullahi's chopper is powered by a second-hand 133 horsepower Honda Civic car engine and equipped with seats from an old Toyota saloon car. Other elements of the chopper stem from the carcass of a Boeing 747 which crashed near Kano some years ago. The helicopter is 12 meters long, 5 meters wide and 7 meters high. It was built in eight months and has flown 6 times without exceeding an altitude of more than 2.13 meters.
The cockpit is made of a push-button ignition, an accelerator lever between the seats which controls vertical thrust and a joystick that provides balance and bearing. The dashboard has a screen that connects to a camera underneath the helicopter for ground vision, while a set of six buttons adjusts the screen's brightness.
One or two minutes after the engine is turned on, one can shift the accelerator forward that will spin the propeller on top of the helicopter. The further one shifts the accelerator, the faster the propeller goes. And once 300 revolutions per minute (rmp) are reached, one can press the joystick and the chopper takes off.
Mubarak Muhammad Abdullahi learned the rudiments of flying a helicopter from the Internet and got his first idea of building one from the movies he used to watch on television, mostly action movies featuring flying helicopters.
Apparently, the Nigerian government and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) have not shown sign of interest in Abdullahi's helicopter. Abdullahi admits, however, that his first helicopter lacks some basic equipment like devices for measuring atmospheric pressure, altitude, humidity and the like. Abdullahi has apparently started working on a new helicopter that should be more sophisticated than the first one. It should be a two-seater helicopter capable of flying at an altitude of 4.57 meters, twice the altitude of the first chopper.
Let's wait and see if Authorities will, in Nigeria or across Africa, appreciate the work of this African Genius and support him as it is clear that this helicopter is far from modern. But that a young student succeeds in conceiving, then flying a helicopter based on plans found on the internet and with scraps proves that well trained, he and other Africans can help manufacture helicopters in Africa.