What started off as a mere final-year project has brought tons of appreciation and accolades for Shogan Kumar, a final-year aeronautical engineering student from Tagore Engineering College. On April 28, Shogan Kumar completed the construction of the ultra-light, single-seater helicopter that he built singlehandedly. “My helicopter is capable of flying at 10,000 feet. The power plant has been built using the engine of a Maruti Esteem,” says Shogan.

A special feature is the fact that the blades of this helicopter have been made of composites, instead of the usually used aluminium, possibly the first of its kind in the country. This is the first time a helicopter has been built with a composite structure of s2 glass fibre and carbon s2 fibre in India. “I chose to use composites as it is stronger, more durable and yet lighter than aluminium,” says Shogan, excitedly. “I am proud that my student Shogan has built his helicopter in just three months, an outstanding achievement, given his age,” says Vijay Raja, head of the department, aeronautical engineering, Tagore Engineering College.

“It was a lot of hard work,” Shogan admits. “I would work the whole night, go to the beach to clear my head for a bit, spend the morning buying material and get back to work! I barely slept those three months but I just had to give it my all and it has been worth it!” he says.

Shogan now wants to pursue M.S in Canada. He has also started NARA, an aviation company, along with three other friends — Suresh, Muthu and Praveen. NARA intends to retrieve the old, damaged Pushpak aircraft that are no longer in use and change the propeller and power plant, thereby enabling reuse. He is currently waiting for permission to fly his single-seater helicopter.