Nkaheza–coined from his own name Joseph Nkaheza—is Uganda’s first private and locally made helicopter.
Nkaheza also made a 12-feet motorbike called “Rubalusimo” [loosely translated as it is a prize].
Nkaheza’s great bike uses only steam not fuel. It is 12-feet tall.
Nkaheza used steel to make his chopper after failing to purchase aluminium materials which he said were too expensive.
“I needed Shs56m to buy aluminium. I didn’t have the money, so I decided to use only steel which cost me Shs21m,” Nkaheza told edge.ug.
“In the end, I was able to make the first plane in the world to ever fly without aluminium components in its make.”
He used the engine of a maize mill and sprockets or cogs from motorcycles.
“A motorcycle has only one sprocket which aids it to climb a hill. My chopper has 12 sprockets which allow it to fly in the air.”
Nkaheza also used wood to guard against short-circuits or lightning. He says the wood enables lights and the battery to operate without touching the steel that would in end cause a short-circuit.
“I also used plastic and rubber materials as mountings to keep the engine in its right place. Nkaheza is the first plane to fly without computer generated power. It only relies on pipes.”
The inventor says many people have tried to do what he did before but failed.
His chopper uses petro to fly. He uses five litres of petrol to fly a distance of 200km.
“The first time I flew it, it crashed and broke my two arms.” That was in 2015 in Mwizi Mbarara district. He would spend a year in hospital.
Dreams come true
“I was repairing a fan once, it fell but somehow stayed suspended in the air. It was then that I got the idea of making a plane,” he explained.
His first plane took off properly but refused to land. It was made like a fan. “I removed the switch and then fell.”
Nkaheza then changed and made a new plane that could fly and land easily.
“I remodelled the first one. I noticed I needed to reduce on its head [front]. I launched it last year . It flew up and moved smoothly but while landing, it lost balance and landed hind-first. The helmet cut my forehead.”
When Nkaheza tried to fly the plane again, his neighbours protested—afraid it would kill him this time round.
Challenge of funding and hands-on knowledge
I don’t have anyone to help me in this great endeavour, he told edge.ug, saying only media has tried to market him.
“They [other people] just promise. I even lost my wife two years ago because of my inventions. She wanted me to stop but I couldn’t.”
Nkaheza and his wife have two children—all boys. In his life, Nkaheza is capable of doing five jobs at ago.
“If the government can help and train me more in technological innovations, that would be great. I also need capital to fund my inventions.”
He only stopped in Primary seven [P.7] at Bugarika school.
“I would have done great things if I had a chance to study further.”
Twesigye Faluku, a youth leader and journalist, says those who have the means in the district don’t support innovations by young people.
Faluku left his job as a reporter at Red Pepper Publications, a leading tabloid, to create jobs for the youth. He started “Fatwes Solutions”, offering Youth Entrepreneurship Projects designed to help young people to start their own business.
He has trained youth several skills including candle making, soap [bar and liquid], yogurt [from milk] making and other income-generating activities.
“I have always found Nkaheza in Nkokonjeru trading centre helping builders. He faced challenges like some people from the ruling government who conned him,” Faluku told us about the inventor.
He said Nkaheza comes from Rwampara County but is currently staying in Mbarara town.
“The constituency has leaders but instead of helping such youth, they gather them at Mwizi trading centre to enjoy packed liquor and other types of hard drinks.”
Faluku accused the former Rwampara County MP Hon. Vincent Mujuni Kyamadidi of doing nothing to help youth hoping the current MP Charles Ngabirano would reverse the trend.
When contacted, MP Ngabirano told edge.ug he has fully supported Nkaheza in his technological pursuits.