The Kahawa West Aircraft

We are not really sure if this homemade aircraft will ever manage to take off (or land), but – according to the following reports aired on Kenyan TV a few days ago – I.T. specialist Gabriel Nderitu from Kahawa West in Kenya obviously spent much love & funds on building his very own aircraft.


Our avid readers will certainly remember Mubarak Abdullahi’s home-made helicopter in Nigeria, the homemade helicopter in Somaliland as well as this odd story on someone who claims to having built a single seater aircraft way back in the 1970s from an old VW Beetle engine (hey, at least air-cooled, the way it’s supposed to be). The important and innovative part, it seems, is that these guys were willing and able to invest time and money into their projects – even though success is uncertain.


Yes, why not?!


The Kenyan TV station did a follow-up on the story and… well, it seems that Mr. Nderitu miscalculated the stability of his landing gear (among other things).


(Kupoteya njia ndiyo kujua njia.)

And here’s another update via the BBC who paid this man a visit in March 2011.

20 thoughts on “The Kahawa West Aircraft”

  1. This was mentioned on the US Experimental Aircraft Association site ( In the comments there was talk of raising money to help Mr. Nderitu.

    From what little I can glean from the videos, this particular project does not look promising. But Mr. Nderitu’s drive and resourcefulness are VERY impressive, and I have no doubt he will eventually accomplish something great.

  2. Opinions on Wazua cite this attempt as akin to heroism – a man living his dream, testament to determination, support of friends. Quoting Richard Branson, if we only took ourselves less earnestly, many others may take us more seriously

  3. The resourcefulness of these designers is impressive, and not being an aircraft engineer I can still see some places they could make improvements:

    *Weight weight weight! Since he’s starting with a car battery and automobile motor weight is going to be a huge hurdle. Saving and shaving weight anywhere possible should be done. Drill holes in non-structural parts like controls or the seat (or go without one?) make as much out of aluminum or wood as possible.
    *Get rid of the cockpit and engine enclosures. Wear some goggles or safety glasses to keep the wind out of your eyes. At least the aluminum skin and windshield needs to go. It makes it look more like a commercial plane, but the added weight is gonna be the death of the project ever leaving the ground and you need it to fly like a plane before it looks like one.
    * Same goes for the small wings. From the look of it the plane isn’t making enough thrust to even move itself around on the ground due to the weight of all those wings. Worry about getting more lift after you’re able to move around without a push.
    *Keep the prop spinning around 3000RPM. Any more and the ends of the propeller are going supersonic, reducing their efficiency and thrust. It’ll also put less strain on the motor.
    *A small car motor will probably be able to spin that prop at 3000RPM as well as a big diesel could. Using the smallest motor you can get away with is going to make the motor’s job of moving the plane easier.
    *try to model more after “ultralight” airplanes rather than commercially made ones.

    If you do happen to get this Mr. Nderitu best of luck to you!

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  5. Der Typ ist echt krass! Ich bewundere die Vorstellungskraft und den Willen. Ich hätte wahrscheinlich schon längst aufgegeben.

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