Friends and fans of Spaphoud Ochieng Okinyi identify him as a polite and talented man in all spheres of life. But to other Kenyans meeting him for the first time, he is a cartoonist and a comedian who should be ignored outright.
What will shock many, however, is that Okinyi is a serious up-coming engineer going by his in-born talent that has enabled him manufacture a ‘helicopter’ that is currently attracting throngs of viewers at his home from within and far flung places.
A trip to his Ng’ong’a village, in Uriri sub county of Migori County will reveal another side of the 28 year-old man whose part of life after school has been involved in dealing with scrap metal.
When we visited him at his ‘state-of-the art’ garage within his father’s compound, we found him putting the final touch for his helicopter to hit the air.
“It has been my dream to manufacture an airplane, and this is the fruit of my long journey in my engineering work,” he joyfully told us while showing us his art-work.
When his father Boniface Onyango died, he was left with no option but to drop out of school at Lwala Mix Secondary School in form two due to lack of school fees.
Selling scrap metals
He was then to engage seriously in the business of collecting and selling scrap metals which was not paying him well.
The father of two says that while in school, his best subject was physics from where he learnt of pressure one and two that enables plane to fly.
This, he explained, triggered his urge to put this theory into practical and in a span of four years, he had made a conclusion of going full throttle into the engineering work of his current plane.
“The body work and the engine took me two months to assemble at a cost of Sh80, 000 and my focus is now to launch it in the air as soon as possible,” says Okinyi.
From his savings from sales of scrap metals, Okinyi was able to buy a motorcycle engine at Sh20, 000 and the body works of the plane has gobbled Sh60,000 to the state it is now.
Ochieng did not work solo in assembling the engine but with his co-engineer Joshua Otieno who was the brain behind the electrical installations on the yet to be inaugurated motorized air-bird.
Otieno, a standard 7 pupil at St. Mary’s Ng’ong’a academy, assures that their helicopter would fly by all means.
Complete with a motorcycle engine, the single seater helicopter will fly on normal super petrol, although the two ‘engineers’ are working on ways to make it use jet fuel.
The body is a fabrication of normal iron sheets bolted carefully to create a cabin for one person.
And jutting from the roof is a steel rod holding three pronged blades made of compacted iron sheets- making a powerful propeller to complete the plane.
The undoing however, is that the engineering work has not put in a strong body work for the helicopter to sustain the power of the engine.
“When we try to fly the plane, the fear of it crumbling on landing is great and that’s why we have been aborting complete take-off to save the pilot and the plane, says Okinyi with an assurance that the plane could lift high from the ground.
Known in the tiny village by the title engineer, Okinyi and his co-engineer have called on the government and any other interested person to assist them with funds to enable them improve on their work and talent.
“It is only lack of funds that has made us to use cheap materials that cannot sustain the plane in the air,” emphasised Okinyi who says he has the passion for engineering work.
His mother, Turphosa Onyango affirmed her last born Okinyi had the passion for engineering and could go far if assisted.
George Agimba KNA