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Designing, building and flying a light aircraft: the sky’s the limit for deaf innovator


Thursday 14 April
Designing, building and flying a light aircraft: the sky’s the limit for deaf innovator

- April 14 at 11:21

Saji James, a deaf school drop-out from Kerala, has built an ultra-light two-seater aircraft and been featured by Discovery Channel for his feat.

45-year-old Saji comes from a remote village in Thodupzuha in Idukki, and it took him three attempts to build the aircraft. In his first attempt, he managed to build a frame and other equipment of the aircraft. He later he fitted it with a motorcycle engine, but couldn’t fly it. “He sold his second aircraft to an engineering college for Rs 1.50 lakh and completed the third one called Saji-X Air with this. A retired wing commander S K J Nair helped him realise his dream,” said James’ wife, Maria.

Since he doesn’t have a pilot licence, James couldn’t fly the craft higher than 30 feet.

The aircraft was built using recycled materials, costing around Rs 13 lakh. To fund his passion, James sold a large portion of his land, and constantly does odd jobs like repair works for TVs, etc. However, it’s a tough life that James is looking to turn around. His efforts so far got him on TV (James was featured on HRX Super Heroes, a TV show anchored by actor Hrithik Roshan last year), and even a letter of praise from a former defence research and development officer.

“When I was 14, I was inspired by a pilot who came to spray pesticide near my house. Moved by my enthusiasm he gave me a free ride. This really fuelled my imagination,” he wrote on his website.

The late former president APJ Abdul Kalam also become an inspiration. James is hoping his innovation catches a major investor’s eye so he can spend quality time and money on improving his crafts.

Photo caption: Ramesh Babu, Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram

Article source: Hindustan Times