Weeks ago, some 20 teenagers made headlines after they successfully built an aircraft that has since achieved its goal of flying them across Africa completing their last official trip to Cairo.
As much as their story is inspiring, the only other advantage they might have had over many others is that they got financial support and a license to get the craft off the ground. However, they are not the first to have successfully built an aircraft on their own in Africa.
In April 2019, two brothers in Ghana, Isaac Otoo and Jacob Larbi, emerged to have fulfilled a childhood dream of being like their mentors, the Wright Brothers, after successfully building a two-seater aircraft.
The GHOFI 1601, as the aircraft is named, is able to carry a total maximum weight of 757kg and has detachable wings allowing for easy transportation. However, the brothers are still searching for financial support and an even bigger flight hindrance – a license.
“We do not have a license that permits us to fly so until that is acquired, we still have to wait to get off the ground. However, it costs a lot of money to acquire this license and that is why any form of financial support will be greatly appreciated,” Jacob Larbi appealed in an interview with local television TV3.
So far, the biggest boost they have received in terms of approval from the Ghana Civil Aviation is that it has given them the opportunity to use a runway for testing their aircraft which runs on petrol and is powered by a used Volkswagen engine.
With the help they received from an ex-Airforce officer and from watching several videos from YouTube, they were emboldened to fuse their creativity into this invention and they put all the knowledge they had acquired into use.
From their childhood, the boys had a good sense of what they wanted to do for the entirety of their lives after noticing the road of greatness they were on when they began designing things such as vehicles at the early age of 8.
The light aircraft, which is their biggest creation yet, was started in the small backyard of the residence of their parents at Dome Pillar 2, a community in Ghana’s capital city, Accra. For most of the materials they used such as iron square pipes, plywood and aluminium sheets, they acquired them locally.
According to the brothers, the aircraft can be used by the police for patrol services as well as by farmers to water their plants.
The brothers also noted that they can build cargo planes that can be used to transport goods if given the right financial support.
They are hopeful, someday; somehow GHOFI 1601 will fly in the skies.