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Saturday, 8 October 2011

Kurdish plane-maker eyes turbine engine

Ph Credit: kurdishglobe.net

When Anwar said he wanted to build a plane, people thought he was crazy

Nariman Anwar, 34, sits in his garage in Erbil city's industrial area, looking at the photos and videos of his first plane. He took photos and filmed all the steps of building the plane, from the beginning until he flew the plane. On July 12, 2010, Anwar made his first successful flight, after four years of intense work. 

He built two planes before his third was a success. He worked on his first plane for a year and six months, but the plane failed to take off. The second plane took him nine months, and was another failure. The third plane took only six months to build, but then he spent a year testing it. 

"On July 12, 2010, I went to Harir Runway [north of Erbil city] to fly my plane. I did not tell my mother or anyone else, even the friends who helped me build the plane, that I was going to fly the plane. I did not want to worry them," said Anwar. 

He added, "I just called an ambulance and a fire truck, in case of an emergency. First I drove the plane just to check the plane was OK. A few minutes later, I just took off. I went up 1,000 feet and I didn't even have a parachute." 

After three more flights, he was able to land the plane without any problems. "When I stepped out of the plane, I saw tears in the eyes of one of the ambulance guys. And the others looked very shocked; they thought the plane would crash at any moment." 

Anwar learned how to fly in China. In 2006, he went to China to take private lessons to become pilot. Later, after his finished his first successful plane, a German flight instructor came to Kurdistan to train Anwar, for which he is grateful. 

Anwar believes that if Saddam Hussein were still in power, he would be hanged. Under Hussein's regime, Kurds were not allowed to be pilots or take aviation classes. There were aviation colleges in Baghdad, Basra and Mosul, but none in the Kurdish areas. 

Anwar's first goal is complete, which was to build a plane and fly it. His second mission is to open an institute to train people, especially mechanical engineering graduates, on how to build planes and become pilots. 

He said the Kurdish government promised to give him full support to open the institute. However, he said he can't do the job alone; he needs experts from outside, such as aviation instructors, mechanical engineers and plane designers, to teach at the institute. 

He also wants the government to open a center for inventors. "Many talented people visit me with great ideas but they don't have money to put their ideas into work." 

Right now, Anwar is working on a new plane. This will be a four-person plane, which can fly to 16,000 feet with a maximum speed of 250 kilometers per hour, and should be able to fly for eight hours, nonstop. 

The plane is in the final stage, and should be finished in about a month and a half. He plans to fly it soon after. Anwar works as a car mechanic every day until 2 p.m., and then starts work on his plane. After his next project is complete, he plans to build a plane that uses turbine engines. 

For Anwar, building planes was a childhood dream. He said when he was 3 years old he deliberately jumped off the roof of his house to see if he could fly. This resulted in a serious head injury, and his father took him to a doctor in Baghdad. The surgeon, Sa'hd Wutry, told Anwar's father his son would be either crazy or a genius when he grew up. 

When Anwar started to build his latest plane, he approached some government officials to talk about his idea. "Many of them, including my family and friends, thought that I had a mental problem." 
Anwar believes talented people do not care about what other people say about them. "They are just focused on their goal, and in fact they see their vision."

Qassim Khidhir

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