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Naivasha police bar student,20, from flying homemade aircraft

By Antony Gitonga | Published Mon, April 7th 2014 at 00:00, Updated April 7th 2014 at 15:06 GMT +3
Naivasha police bar student,20, from flying homemade aircraft
Members of the public watch Paul Karanja as he prepares for his maiden flight in Karagita air strip in Naivasha before police halted his adventure. (Photo:Antony Gitonga/Standard)

By Antony Gitonga                            

Naivasha, Kenya: Efforts by a 20-year-old university student to fly a homemade plane in a Naivasha estate were Monday thwarted by police.

The administration police officers blocked Eric Paul Karanja from taking off in Karagita airstrip in an incident that had attracted over 500 people.

As early as 9am, residents of the sprawling Karagita and Mirera estates had camped by the dilapidated airstrip ready to view the maiden flight.

Armed with his plane which uses a motorcycle engine, Karanja’s dream of flying was nipped at the bud after the government officers termed the exercise illegal.

“Just as I was about to fly out some government officers moved in and ordered that I stop the exercise as it was dangerous and illegal,” said a heart-broken Karanja.

Despite the move, the Meru University student was optimistic that he could one day fly adding that he was committed to fulfilling his dream.

According to Karanja, the poor status of the runaway affected one of the wheels forcing them to rectify it.

Naivasha police bar student,20, from flying homemade aircraft
Paul Karanja works on the engine of his plane after security officers from Naivasha blocked the maiden flight from Karagita airstrip on security grounds. (Photo:Antony Gitonga/Standard)

Naivasha OCPD Charles Kortok confirmed cancellation of the ‘flight’ saying that it was risky and against the law.

The police boss said that they had advised the student to seek authority from the civil body before taking to the air.

“The student was stopped from flying the plane until he gets the authority from the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority,” he said.

However, Karanja who is a part time teacher said he had written to the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority on the issue.

Karanja who is taking a degree in Computer Science said that his dream was to join the 43 Air school in South Africa so that he could be a full time pilot.

“My father has been very supportive in constructing this plane and I relied on local materials to bring it up,” he said.

A local leader Simon Wanyoike called on the government to take in such bright students and train them.

“This bright mind would have been taken to an aviation school in other countries and we should seek ways to nurture such talent,” he said.


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