By Paul Ndiho
A south Sudanese student is using his passion for airplanes to design an aircraft. He discovered his love for aeronautics when he was just a young boy. But his dreams of becoming an aeronautics engineer are being disrupted by fighting in the country that is preventing him from furthering his education.
Parked inside a small compound in juba, South Sudan is a small light aircraft. The plane was designed and built created by 23-year-old George John Male. George is a high school student who discovered his talent for airplanes when he was just about five-years-old.
This is his second prototype. He built the plane using local materials such as scrap metal and discarded plastic and sacks.
“This isn’t my first work or my first event. I have done a lot since I was a kid. I have been doing some research and trying to find out how to make small air crafts and then make them. The one I made before this one was actually a UVA – unman aero vehicle. But I didn’t have a system to control it, the wiring GPS and all this so I came with an idea for second one that could carry a weight of a person powered by a gasoline engine almost like generator but a little bit different that you can adjust the speed,”
George works at home, where he has turned his room into his workshop — which he calls “aero tech research.”
He uses his artistic, drawing and painting skills to design airplanes. He develops his prototypes using information he finds on the internet.
George wants to study aeronautic engineering, but his dreams were interrupted by the ongoing fighting in the country – and there is no college or university here where he can study aeronautics. But despite the challenges, he remains optimistic.
“There were some times whereby I am discouraged because when i do these things, they say that i am crazy and all this. Even some times when i bring the materials, i sneak them into the house through the fence so that they will not see, if they see it they will say that i am wasting money on crazy stuffs.”
Finding funding for his projects is difficult. He even took his first aircraft design to the country’s air force.
“The first plan i made before this, i took it to the air force, but since then, nothing was done about it was just left and trashed by wind. Actually, they told me they will fix a program to take me for studies but since then i have been here nothing was done about it,”
Although, George’s plane isn’t quite ready for passengers yet, he believes with the right support he can become one of Africa’s greatest aerospace innovators.