June 25, 2019
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Pakistani popcorn seller awaits permission to fly his $600 homemade airplane (FEATURE)

Islamabad, Apr 8 (efe-epa).- A popcorn seller in Pakistan is waiting for the country’s Civil Aviation Authority to allow him to fly his homemade airplane after police had stopped him from performing an unauthorized take-off.

On Thursday, the police had returned the plane they had confiscated from Muhammad Fayaz on Mar. 31, after stopping him from taking off using a metal link road as a makeshift runway near his village.

The 30-year-old had dreamed of becoming an Air Force pilot and flying an airplane since he was in school. However, he had to drop out of school before he could finish his senior year due to poverty.

“Whenever I looked up to watch planes overhead, I longed to fly one myself. And then I thought I should use the creativity that God has bestowed on me to build my own plane and fly it,” Fayaz told EFE.

Fayaz, who lives in the Pakpattan district in central Punjab province, spent around Rs 90,000 ($636) by dipping into his savings, taking a bank loan and by selling a piece of his land, to build the plane.

To fulfill his childhood dream, he took on a job as a night watchman, alongside selling popcorn during the day, but the dream to fly a plane did not abandon him.

Fayaz began to build his plane a year and a half ago at home without any technical help from anyone.

He learned the basic rules of air pressure and flying techniques with the help of experiments that he carried out on his own, including one when he was in the fifth standard (fifth grade in elementary) and was riding on the passenger seat of his father’s motorcycle on his way to school.

He experienced air pressure by holding a writing slate in his hand and moving it in different directions.

“When I put it straight it didn’t make any difference but when I put it a bit downward my hands went up creating an airlift, and when I moved it upward my hands were going down, so I understood air does keep its pressure and what role an engine plays to push forward the plane,” said Fayaz.

Fayaz also watched National Geographic channel's Air Crash Investigation show meticulously to learn about why planes crashed and to understand the different parts of an aircraft and their functions.

He had also closely examined a grounded Pakistan International Airline plane that was displayed for public viewing at the Chauburji square in the eastern city of Lahore.

Fayaz had initially planned to take off on his maiden flight with his single-seater plane – which sports a national flag – on Mar. 23 to mark Pakistan Day.

However, his application to the police and other security agencies seeking permission for the flight was never acknowledged.

Fayaz says he conducted an unauthorized test flight around a year ago with a smaller engine and made some rounds of his village.

“It went up high about five feet and traveled around 2 kilometers (1.24 miles), and then I made different changes on the plane because I wanted to go higher, with accelerated speed,” he said.

The country’s Civil Aviation Authority said in a statement they appreciated the passion and skills of the “mini airplane” maker and would provide him the required guidance to achieve more expertise in the field.

Under the New Aviation Policy 2019, developed in line with the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan, every effort will be taken to promote the sector and support innovation, it added.

“We are considering whether he should be allowed to fly his plane or not. A technical team will inspect the plane’s airworthiness, safety parameters and if it meets all the requirements, then he will be allowed to fly,” Mujtaba Baig, a spokesperson for the CAA, told EFE.

“He has tried to make a simpler version of already-existing technology. It doesn’t look like a patent product with a new formula. If the technical team passes it, he will have to register with the CAA before he can fly,” Baig said.

If it were approved as a patented product, Fayaz would even be able to sell it to a company and earn money, he added.

By Amjad Ali

Aa/nb/dl

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