Over the last four years, Pradeep S. Mohite, a Class 9 dropout, has been attempting to create with his meagre income what multinational giants have done by pumping in billions of dollars.
This modest tractor mechanic from Vangi village in Sangli district of Maharashtra has created a home-built helicopter using locally sourced engines, automobile parts and fabrication materials. He succeeded in his attempt, albeit briefly, when his helicopter successfully took off and reached a height of 6 feet in June 2012.
The 27-year-old has spent close to Rs. 3 lakh in pursuit of his passion. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) chairman R.K. Tyagi on Saturday honoured him with the Dhruv award at the Aero India 2013 at the Air Force Station Yelahanka.
“I first tried to build a helicopter using a car’s diesel engine followed by a goods autorickshaw engine. When it did not succeed, I used a Maruti 800 engine,” he told reporters here. “A sugar factory near the village assisted me by allowing me to use its lathe for fabrication work,” he added.
To encourage him, HAL invited him to its facility here and allowed him to interact with its engineers and experts at its helicopter division. “The visit was a big help to me. I realised where I went wrong and what changes I should be making. I will try to rectify defects,” Mr. Mohite said.
Explaining his zeal, he said: “I was keen on making a helicopter from my childhood while I was working in a garage. I continued with that passion.”
Mr. Mohite, who has postponed his marriage plans till he completes his project, said: “My dream is to showcase my helicopter in the air show.”