Thursday, April 2, 2009

Daniel Chingoma's Crazy Copter Dream ....this is priceless

Last week on Friday Harare residents who come up Samora Machel West into town for work were greeted by an interesting site- a helicopter-like vehicle parked by the side of the road. At first site it seemed as if it had landed there but on closer inspection many realised that this machine had been towed by- and was still hitched to- a minibus parked a few metres in front of it. The helicopter was version 2 of Daniel Chingoma’s famous Zimcopter. “This one is ready to fly,” he said with a big grin on his face.

Daniel Chingoma first came to the public eye in 2003 when he launched his home made helicopter, named the Zimcopter. He built it from scrap metal, a car engine and other odds and ends.

Zimcopter II, parked in Samora Machel Avenue, outside the Harare Showgrounds. 

Though he claims it flew, it seems no one ever saw it leave the ground. Neither does there seem to be any media documentation of this ever having taken place.

Chingoma acquired instant fame and infamity at the same time. He gained admiration from those who saw him as a national hero with the potential of steering Zimbabwe’s aviation industry in a new direction, an adventurer and a daring man who deserved all the support he could get from the state.

He was received negatively by those who saw him as a danger to society, who wondered how a man who had never studied anything close to aviation, let alone engineering or motor mechanics, could build a craft that could fly- and who saw him as someone           out to make money from his ramshackle invention (Chingoma charged people a fee to see his first copter).

Daniel Chingoma was undeterred. After Zimcopter I was condemned as not flight-worthy, he started building a better version. That was in 2005.

 Inside the Zimcopter.

That version is the one parked out in Samora Machel right now as I write this. “It’s ready to fly,” he says.

Chingoma was born in 1968. He did his Primary Schooling in Rusape at Zunze Primary and then did his Secondary Schooling at St Mary’s Mission. He told The Zimbo Jam that he has never worked in the aviation industry- he makes hand water pumps for boreholes at local engineering firm, Taisek Engineering. Asked how he came to be building helicopters his response was, “I am just a natural engineer.”

He went on to say that he had learnt all he knew about aeroplanes out of a passion for aerodynamics. He started making maize stalk planes as a kid and his interest grew from there.

Will the current helicopter ever be allowed to fly? Chingoma says he is waiting for clearance from the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) who he says have assisted with his project. “They sent some people to give me tips while I was building it,” he revealed. “They have put it under their Research and Development projects and will help me conduct tests on it before it takes off.” Chingoma went on to explain that there were a number of tests that could be done while the machine was on the ground to see if it would actually take off. “The craft shouldn’t be more than 1 000kg,” he explained, “we have designed it so that it can handle that weight easily.”

The project was self-funded, although Chingoma says he got some help from his employers.

And how did he get the idea to bring it out onto Samora Machel Avenue for display? He didn’t. Apparently, Chingoma had taken to living inside the Harare Showgrounds illegally and was evicted on Thursday evening (19 March 2009). That is how the man and his invention come to be out in the public eye one more time. This time, perhaps we will actually see them both take to the sky…


Some of Boldwill “Bold” Hungwe(The Zimbabwean photojournalist won second prize in the Spot News Singles category of the World Press Photo Contest for images submitted in 2008.) pics......the pics are all from 2006.....

MDC supporters running away from water cannons, after police dispersed them at a venue where they had gathered for a rally.

A lot of people have gained information through the media. Here a security officer scrolls through the newspaper to look for an advertisement for a better job so that he could get a better job and work indoors. Most people get vital infromation about business opportunities through the media hence their lives are uplifted.

A vendor risks his life by selling newspapers at a traffic lights junction to catch motorists who stop when the robots turns red. Many people have often risked their lives as journalists, general workers in the media or as sources of vital information. The media can aslo be a great source of employment for the poor.

Here the image shows Mateo Dube playing the radio while working in the fields. Most people use the radio as a companion and energy giver when doing hard work.

Most media houses in Zimbabwe use trees on open places to place headlines of leading stories to capture the interest of readers and maximise profits. To capture the interest of readers they cover stories that exsposes society's ills. In other words the media is more of like a cleanser of society's ills.

The media believes in the saying "catch them whilst they are young". The picture shows two year old Kuku dancing to music from TV. Most media houses target young people as a marketing strategy to maximise profits but it is often accused of fuming moral decay in society by showing violent films, pornographic material etc.


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