Dreams Take Flight on Wings of Hope
By Anantha Krishnan M | Published: 12th January 2014 12:00 AM |
Mohd Muzakkir Sharieff made headlines in 2003 when just a matriculate he built a 100kg plane named PFS-1 (Passion For Success) with spares borrowed from gujri (scrap) shops in Bangalore. He dismantled his father’s scooter for the plane’s engine and cut off the leg rest of his grandfather’s chair to craft a propeller.
International media hailed him as a genius and even the then President Dr Abdul Kalam took note of his talent. He landed a job in Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) without any formal qualification and was chased by a dozen engineering colleges offering him a seat. He took admission into HKBK College of Engineering in 2004.
Muzakkir, 33, was in news again recently when he rolled out another aircraft as part of his engineering project. Christened MAQH-13/PFS-2, his new plane is a microlite that he built with three batchmates. But life between these two milestones hasn’t exactly been a fairytale.
The national limelight he found himself in 11 years ago was probably too much to handle for a young boy. “Time spent in HAL did give wings to my dreams to make a plane that would actually fly one day. I also realised that plane-making is no child’s play and involved many complex issues. My sudden celebrity status also created some issues in HAL. I had some health concerns as well,” Muzakkir says.
While in the second semester, Muzakkir was diagnosed with TB and had to undergo a surgery to remove a tumour from his ribs. In 2010, just a week after his wedding, he had to undergo another operation to remove kidney stones. He left his job choosing to focus on his studies. “I have been studying engineering for the last 10 years and hopefully I will clear the remaining two papers —material vibration and heat and mass transfer soon,” he says.
Muzakkir and his three batchmates spent over `50,000 on building the microlite plane, which has had successful engine runs. It runs on high octane fuel, weighs around 100kg and the power plant is a modified Yamaha engine.
Muzakkir’s achievement despite very little funds has surprised his wife, Salma Ahmed Haiga, as well. “I am moved by his dedication. Life has been tough for us, but we haven’t given up. One day he will make a plane that will fly,” says Salma.
Muzakkir says he finds adventure in metal and it’s his sole mode of creative expression. His first experiment as a 10-year-old boy was a missile made out of a jotter pen. Emptying the ink, he filled it with phosphorus taken from matchsticks. “I heated one end of the pen and jumped in joy seeing its forward movement. That day I realised that the ‘flight’ of my life lay in making things fly,” he says.
Former director of National Aerospace Laboratories, Dr B R Pai calls Muzakkir “extremely enthusiastic”, with a tremendous hunger to achieve something. “The plane that he made is not a flight-worthy one. It needs lot more improvement before it can be considered for flying,” he says. “As a college project, it is probably the best. But the machine is definitely under-powered. I did take a close look at the plane and told Muzakkir to study other light aircraft in the same category,” says Dr Pai.
The young inventor has inspired many from across the globe, including a US-based amateur pilot Yaswardha Kate.
Kate inspected Muzakkir’s latest plane, after reading about it on the Internet. “I am also building my own aeroplane from a kit and I wanted to see Muzakkir’s aeroplane project and his approach towards design and construction,” Kate said in an email interaction.
“It started as a hobby when he was a child and now he doesn’t think about anything else. I am praying that Allah would help my boy soon,” says Sayeeda Banu, 68, Muzakkir’s mother, who is a retired Urdu teacher.
Muzakkir is starting a family and he hopes his new-born would bring him all the luck he needs. “Inshallah! I shall clear my exams and find a decent job to take care of my child. I am also working on a new helicopter design,” he says.