Dream takes off for unemployed man who built helicopter

2015-06-21 07:30
Vusimuzi Mbatha stands near his helicopter. (Supplied, News24 Correspondent)

Vusimuzi Mbatha stands near his helicopter. (Supplied, News24 Correspondent)

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Rustenburg - The unemployed man who built a helicopter from recycled material outside his shack in the Siza informal settlement near Rustenburg is beaming with excitement after News24 users offered to change his life.

"I am excited about what is happening to me," Vusimuzi Mbatha, 35, said on Friday after job offers and an offer to help him to take a ride in a helicopter were made by readers.

"I was never trained formally in building aircraft and I would like to have formal training to advance my talent. 

"Look, when I started this it was just a dream and to express my admiration for aviation. I wanted to be a soldier... but I could not finish my education due to financial constraints. "

He said he appreciated all the offers of help from the readers and would not disappoint them.

Lerato Sedumeni, from SADS Aviation, said her company wanted to offer Mbatha a job.

"He is clearly talented. We have not spoken to him as yet, but we will later on today and take it from there."

'There is a shortage of black people in aviation'

She said her partner at the company felt that helping Mbatha achieve his dream would also further black empowerment.

"There is a shortage of black people in aviation and my partner wants to uplift him [Mbatha]."

Student helicopter pilot Nico Cloete said he started a Facebook group for Mbatha and was busy creating a Kickstarter campaign to bring him to Cape Town for a ride in a helicopter.

"The Kickstarter campaign will be to raise money for bus ticket [to Cape Town] and rental for a helicopter, which is about R3 000. So we are trying to raise a total of R4 000."

He said his instructor would be willing to fly the rented helicopter.

Cloete called on people to do one small good thing that would change somebody else's life in a profound way.

"Something as trivial as money should never kill someone's passions and dreams," he said.

"I saw a small gap and used it to do a small action that can make a big impact in someone's life."

The cockpit is built from soft drink crates

Mbatha, originally from Libode in the Eastern Cape, said he became fascinated with helicopters after seeing one during a strike on the platinum belt in the North West last year.

"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," he said previously.

The helicopter sports a television set, a clock situated on the back of a seat and a two-way radio. It has a green and a red light on its tail that flashes at night.

"Its engine is powered by petrol and a motorbike battery is used to propel the rotor. The rotor hub is housed in an old soft drink crate.

The cockpit is built from soft drink crates and a fire extinguisher is located on the left side of the helicopter. It stands on a four-wheeled trolley built from scrap metal.

"The clock helps me know what time the flight took place and what time I return."

The steering wheel is made from a PlayStation control. There is also a clutch and accelerator.

"The helicopter is incomplete, there are some parts I have to put in. The challenge is the money. I am not working and depend on odd jobs to build this helicopter."

Mbatha came to Rustenburg 10 years ago looking for jobs in the mines, but currently remains unemployed.


Read more on:    rustenburg  |  aviation  |  good news

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