Jobless South African man builds helicopter from recycled material

What started as a dream soon turned into a reality for Vusimuzi Mbatha. The 35-year-old man from Siza informal settlement near Rustenburg, who’s dream was to fly a helicopter before he dies, decided to take fate into his hands by building his own helicopter.

Vusimuzi Mbatha, who originally hails from Libode in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, revealed he became fascinated with the idea last year only after seeing a helicopter during a strike on the platinum belt in the North West. “I dreamt I was controlling a helicopter. That was in January last year, during the strike in the platinum mines. The dream continued and I decided to follow it. It was easy to build this helicopter because I have a vision of what I wanted to do.”

Vusimuzi Mbatha’s Helicopter

From that point, he started to buy parts and used scrap metals to build his helicopter, which stands a proud giant in front of his cabin. His creation regularly attracts locals to take a look at the metal giant with a roaring engine, which he built bit by bit. It stands on a four wheeled trolley and is built out of scrap metal has its cockpit built out of soft drink crates, within is a television set, a two way radio and a clock which Mbatha says will help him record estimated time of flight. The engine is powered by petrol and a motorbike battery which is used to power and propel the rotor, with the rotor hub housed in an old soft drink crate and the steering wheel made from a Play Station control. There is also a clutch and an accelerator.

Mbatha admits he has always loved and maintained a keen interest in science but could not further his education due to financial constrains, which ultimately forced him to drop out of school after the 7th grade.

But members of his community have expressed their surprise at his creation, one of whom is Mr Kgositsile. “We are surprised,” he said. “We never expected something like this to come from our area. This guy is talented. Government needs to help him to take his dream further, we thought he was playing when he started to assemble it. We did not see it until we heard the roar of an engine and rotating rotor,”

However Mbatha, who came to Rustenburg ten years ago looking for a job in the mines, remains unemployed.

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