Children can stretch their hands across a mile and pluck a fruit from a distant tree and eat it. They can reach up the sky and catch some clouds and if they want to, they can fly. The world of imagination and boundless possibilities are so real to children until adult life slowly grounds them to a constrictive reality. Fortunately, some kids still retain the power of their imagination very well into adult life. “I am such a person who still consider imagination as my primary reality. I know that whatever I can conceive in my mind, I believe I can achieve. I am however, not alone in this. Many Ghanaian kids, have used their creative imagination to make almost everything out of nothing. They have made cars out of tin cans, boats out of plastic bottles and toy guns our of pipes and other bric-a-brac”, says Nii Amartei.
Many children have grown in an adult environment where impossibility and the lack of resources feature in the daily narrative. This environment of necessity is what shaped the creativity of Nii Amartei Amarteifio to build an operational life-size helicopter out of scrap.
Nii Amartei Amarteifio is a second year Mechanical Engineering student of Ashesi University. Like the average Ghanaian child, his playtime was spent enjoying working with his hands and building the most ludicrous of ideas. His passion for building led him in September 2018, to initiate project TakeOff: to design and build an actual helicopter.
One of the motivations for Nii Amartei’s decision had to do with the desire to challenge the pervasive attitude of some of his kinfolk, who constantly implied that certain things simply could not be done, because African people are somewhat limited. In addition, young people grew up with the mindset that until they hit a certain age, they simply could not do anything of benefit for their communities.
After deciding to initiate the project, Nii Amartei began to look at his surroundings differently. He soon realized that within the material filth and scrap that threatens his environment, lies great opportunities for creativity and innovation.
He is therefore proud to announce that a portion of the helicopter is being made from scrap metal. Nii Amartei also also decided to use OPVs (Organic Photovoltaic Cells), to power a portion of the aircraft. In this, he intends to encourage the use of solar energy sources. These considerations are what inspired Nii Amartei to embark on project TakeOff.
After a few weeks of intensive studying of engineering principles relating to aircrafts, Nii was determined with the help of God to make his project idea a reality. His first step was designing a prototype using Computer-Aided Design. After a few design iterations, he started to work on the actual model, sourcing materials from scrap and relying on personal savings to procure materials he could not find in scrap.
The helicopter, according to Nii Amartei, when completed, will operate on a 65 Hp, Rotax 914 engine and will weigh approximately a 100kg when empty. Being modelled after a mosquito helicopter, it has a main rotor diameter of 15 feet, and will have a height of 2.24 meters.
Nii Amartei believes he will have succeeded in this project if he is able, through TAKE -OFF, to make society rethink its biases towards the potential of young people and to made the older generation know that, children can still stretch the hands and touch the sky.
Nii Amartei Amarteifio
Ashesi University, Ghana
Tel: +233 20 622 5606