On Monday, December 14, Naij team was in Agbaakin Compound in Jobele area of Afijio local government in Oyo state. The mission of the team was to interview one Mr Paul Onah who boasts of the nation’s first complete and locally-built helicopter.
In a one on one chat with Naij.com’s Oladele Hakeem, the professional welder turned-inventor explains how the journey started and what he foresees upon the addition of some other components which will make the helicopter eventually fly in the air.
He went into the interior of his invention and started its engine. The helicopter started with its blades and propellers rotating.
Below are excerpts from the interview:
Could you please tell us about yourself in details?
My name is Paul Onah. I am 35 years old. I am married with two children. I am from Benue state. I am a welder by profession, as well as a panel beater. I came from Benue state several years ago before I came to settle to here in Jobele.
You are here standing beside your locally-built helicopter. Tell us how it all began with the helicopter
Thank you very much. The idea to build my helicopter actually started 5 years ago when God first inspired me to invent an airplane. I initially did not understand this because I never understood it was God who was speaking to me in my dream. I only heard a voice and was a bit confused.
However, in 2012, my late father who died several years ago appeared to me in my dream and told me to build a helicopter. After waking up in the morning of that day, I asked myself, how will I build an airplane when I have never come in contact or touched an aeroplane before in my life?
As you are seeing me, I have never been to an airport before. Likewise, I had no money then that would enable embark on the project. It was not until I told my lovely wife that I was finally convinced and encouraged that this project will come to see the light of the day.
Give us more details into how you constructed this helicopter standing here
Okay. As I said earlier on, after telling my wife and she supported the idea, I first began work on prototypes which included jet and small helicopter all designed using woods. This was possible because I bought children’s toy airplanes and watched videos of how aeroplanes and helicopters are built. This was really what further boosted my courage and resilience that I will build a helicopter one day.
The reason for using initially woods for my airplane was to know the design of what I wanted for my work. However, I began building this helicopter you are looking at in January this year. But I cannot really remember the actual date now.
So, how much went into this project and which materials did you use?
Since the time I started building this helicopter, all the money I made from my welding job and from the sale of my Volvo car totally N300,000 all went into this project. Even when I told my brothers to assist me, none of them helped me. They said it was a white-elephant project. However, I was not discouraged as my wife, Margaret and my first child Mary all prayed for me that I will succeed.
Since I used to have two vehicles, these were Datsun and Volvo. I sold the Volvo to buy materials like iron plate, blade propellers, tyres and other materials from Oyo. I converted the Datsun car by reconstructing it.
As I got all the materials on ground, I began work and here is what you have.
Do you think this helicopter will eventually fly?
Yes! By the grace of God. It will still fly if I finally get the remaining needed materials.