Reaching for the skies: Gilgit’s very own Wright brother

Published: January 26, 2016
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PHOTO: EXPRESS

PHOTO: EXPRESS

GILGIT: Kabir Khan always dreamed of becoming a pilot and soaring over the towering mountains surrounding Gilgit city. That dream could not become reality, but he found another way to satiate his thirst for touching the skies.

PHOTO: EXPRESS

Over the past two years, Khan has single-handedly made 10 different kinds of aircraft using various kinds of material, including plywood and aluminum frames. “This is a passion and a way to satiate my thirst for flying,” he told The Express Tribune on Tuesday.

Khan does not have a professional degree in and currently serves in a government office as a computer operator. “It was my desire to make aircraft but it wasn’t an easy task given that it required time, money and material besides some human resource,” says Khan.

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“I design the aircraft by downloading images from the internet,” he said, while explaining the four to six-month long process of completing one project. “I use raw material wherever possible to give it shape.”

The first plane he made was a Cessna 182, which took him about five months to prepare and cost about Rs25,000. Unfortunately, it crashed the same day while landing.

Khan, however, didn’t lose heart. He immediately began making another, even better plane. It was a Falcon 25, which suffered the same fate after flying for five minutes.

PHOTO: EXPRESS

The failures, however, didn’t deter Khan’s efforts. He then made a Wing Dragon which finally proved to be his maiden success. “It flew for more than five minutes and as high as 1,000 feet,” said the architect, adding that the plane wings measured a combined 48 inches.

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A bedroom hanger

At present, more than seven planes are in Khan’s fleet, which also include two jet planes (Raptor F22) measuring seven and three feet, respectively.

A Quadcopter is also part of his collection of aircraft in his room, which serves as a hanger. “The expenditure incurred on it was more or less Rs25,000,” he said of the Quadcopter, which is similar to a drone camera used widely by media outlets and enthusiasts these days.

Where there’s a will…

A lack of open space for flying, coupled with financial implications, make Khan’s work a challenge. He flies his aircraft in play grounds and parks but feels that it is hardly sufficient or safe enough for take-off and landing. “The results and performances would be better if I get a good runway strip.”

Moreover, Khan finances his hobby from his own pocket. “I save up to Rs5,000 from my salary every month and when I have enough at my disposal, I start work.”

But a lack of assistance and availability of parts in Gilgit market pose another challenge for Khan. For parts, he says, he approaches markets in Rawalpindi, Lahore and Karachi while the real help comes from his brother.

Khan’s hobby isn’t restricted to model planes.

One day, he plans to make a single-seat plan for himself. But his elder brother, Nadeem, says to do that they’d have to face the biggest hurdle yet: permission from their mother. “Our mother fears for his life and that is perhaps the biggest reason my brother has yet to embark on that adventure,” said Nadeem.

Reader Comments (8)

  • Karrar
    Jan 27, 2016 - 12:52AM

    Wow MashAllah! So proud of you dude. Also, I loved the background voices in Burushaski language. One kid says: “Besan be ley?” meaning What is this thing?
    ET, I wish to speak to Kabir, if possible. Please inbox me his contact details if he has no objection.Recommend

  • Sehi Banda
    Jan 27, 2016 - 1:45AM

    Excellent story. There are many people that dream big and make those dreams a reality. This ability to dream is what gives hope and soar thru skies. Keep your dreams alive, and Insha-Allah you will succeed in your ultimate mission, to build a single engine Aircraft. This is a great hobby and it also teaches the young people around to also have big dreams and aspirations of their own, and go on into Engineering Field and make the country a better place for all.Recommend

  • Tariq Mahmood
    Jan 27, 2016 - 6:47AM

    I know Kabir bhai,,,,,,He is really a talented and determined man. He really fulfilled his dream to fly. Allah bless him. Recommend

  • Waseem Javed
    Jan 27, 2016 - 11:49AM

    Hi,

    I want to contact Nadeem. I’m an Embedded System Developer. I have same enthusiasm for flying and was rejected by PAF medical board because of eye sight issue. I can help him in developing/designing electronics, also I live in Lahore so I can have access to almost every part available in Pakistan. Do us a favor, and introduce us, I think we will make a very good team.

    Thanks,
    Waseem JavedRecommend

  • Waseem Javed
    Jan 27, 2016 - 11:51AM

    @Tariq Mahmood:
    Can you give me his contact. I want to contact him. As, I want to assist him, we both have same ambitions
    Thanks,Recommend

  • Shah
    Jan 27, 2016 - 12:22PM

    This is all available on internet. Not news worthy except that it should be a marketing for young people to take up this as a hobby. Google “RCpowers” or see his videos on youtube. There are many other resources just search for RC planes or foamboard planes. Foamboard is very cheap and light which means you dont have to buy expensive motors or other heavy accessories. Recommend

  • Kabir khan
    Jan 27, 2016 - 3:55PM

    Thanks to all friends who liked my work and encouraged , Appreciate and thanks to “The Express Tribune” & Mr. Shabbir Mir Sahib valuable time for me. once again thank you very much all of you and i am glad to see all comments and best wishes. your brother kabir khan . . Recommend

  • Jan 27, 2016 - 7:15PM

    Dear Kabir Khan – While appreciating you on your enthusiasm, I suggest you to abandon this project on two points (1) there are toy aero-planes and drones sold in shopping malls of US and other western countries which run on remote controls (2) You have to spend so much money on these model planes which are practically useless. Try to do research in solar powered refrigerators and air-conditioners (domestic). Also condensing the humidity to make water is also a good project. Since you are computer operator, you may upload guides for student subjects and maths problems and their step-by-step solutions. Anyway, good luck to you.Recommend

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