This Popcorn Seller in Pakistan Built His Own Plane and Got Arrested for Flying It

Assembled using the engine of a roadcutter and rickshaw wheels, Muhammad Fayyaz’s DIY plane was grounded by the police for flying without a license.
SJ
Mumbai, IN
May 7, 2019, 12:12pm
Pakistan popcorn seller builds a plane
Screen grab of a video revealing Muhammad Fayyaz's DIY plane project. Photo: AFP Youtube

When it comes to dreaming, we’re all told to reach for the skies. But an inventive Pakistani popcorn seller took the phrase quite seriously.

32-year-old Muhammad Fayyaz from Tabur in the Punjab province of Pakistan built a plane from scratch. Now, he’s caught the attention of the Pakistan Air Force.

This dude, who doubles up as a popcorn seller and security guard, DIY-ed an actual plane using the engine of a roadcutter, burlap for the wings, metal tubing, and rickshaw wheels. Built by watching TV clips and scouring the internet for suitable blueprints, his flight of fancy became a reality when he tested out his backyard science project in February. After picking up the principles of flight by binge-watching National Geographic Channel's Air Crash Investigation and asking his friends to help him block off a small road standing in for a runway, he says he was able to reach speeds of 120kmph before taking off, after which he could stay afloat for two to three kilometres.

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Fayyaz told AFP that even as a kid, he aimed to join the air force, but couldn’t complete his education after his father passed away, and he was forced to drop out of school to work. Not only did he save all his earnings from nights spent as a security guard and days as a popcorn seller, but he also sold off his family-owned land and took a loan of Rs 50,000 ($350) to power up his childhood aspiration.

But on the day of his public debut, his plans took a turbulent turn. Taking his flying claims into serious consideration, the police arrested him for flying without a license and seized his plane for being a safety threat.

He has now been freed with a fine of Rs 3,000 ($19) and his plane has been returned, but even being arrested isn’t enough to clip his wings.

“I am reassembling my plane and hopefully will be able to do it in a couple of months,” he told The Telegraph. “The civil aviation authority is in contact with me and has promised to provide a proper space for take-off and landing for the next attempt. I am seeking help from anybody for finance and will collect money on my own as well.” He is so determined in his pursuit that a nearby base has even issued him a certificate praising his "passion and dexterity" in building a "mini basic” aeroplane. His story is currently soaring high on social media, where many are viewing him as a source of inspiration and even declaring him a hero.

While most of us struggle with even putting our phones on airplane mode, this dude is pulling out all the stops to keep his ambition up in the air.

Follow Shamani Joshi on Instagram.