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Dream comes true for Eldoret's young 'chopper' innovator as KDF recruits him

By Silah Koskei | December 10th 2014
Edwin Kipchirchir with his ‘chopper’ innovation that helped him get enrolled to the Kenya Defence Force. He hopes to advance his pursuit of aviation excellence in the forces. [PHOTO: MICHAEL OLLINGA/STANDARD]

UASIN GISHU COUNTY: The burning desire to be an aircraft expert is what pushed Edwin Kipchirchir to, last month, make a fifth consecutive attempt at joining the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF).

His persistence bore fruit and on Monday, Kipchirchir was among those who reported to Moi Barracks Recruit Training School in Eldoret.

After the November 20 exercise, word went round about an innovative young man who came to the Outspan field, venue of the KDF recruitment exercise, dragging a ‘home made’ chopper which won him favour with the recruiters.

The Standard tracked him and held an interview with him at his home in Ngeria Farm, some 20km from Eldoret town.


Although he was at the time yet to receive confirmation of his shortlisting, Kipchirchir came across as a jovial young man who readily narrated the events that led up to that day.

“I had been dismissed four times, due to my slightly deformed finger nail, but I did not lose hope of joining the disciplined forces. This time round, I decided to come with my ‘chopper’ to make them understand why I wanted to join,” said the 23-year-old.

Kipchirchir said he left home on the eve of the recruitment day and spent four hours pushing his aircraft more than 10 kilometres to the venue. He arrived at 3am and slept on the field waiting for day break.

He said as recruits and officers trooped into the venue, no one could ignore the three-metre high aircraft, which stood on the field for the better part of the morning.

“Before the exercise begun, one of the officers asked who was the owner of the chopper and I stood up. While the rest were told to line up for a run, I was spared from the exercise since the officers said I had ran my own course by pushing the chopper to the venue,” Kipchirchir says.

The young innovator said the officers appeared impressed by the work he had put into his chopper and were also satisfied with his Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education results.

He said this was his third attempt at building a chopper adding that he opted not to give up, despite previous failures, because he saw this as something that would give him a competitive edge at the recruitment exercise.

And it did not disappoint. On that day, the chopper’s engine kicked to life, its twin blades made of wood rotated simultaneously while his legs and hands controlled the humming of the engine. It did not rise like other ‘normal’ aircrafts but the demonstration wowed the hearts of the officers in charge and his fellow recruits.

“One of the officers asked the close to 3,000 recruits present whether I should be given the slot for my brilliance in aerospace and they unanimously said yes,” he said.

The son of a former air force pilot, James Tarus, Kipchirchir finished his secondary education in 2008 and has since then devoted all his energies towards achieving his goal of building an aircraft.

“I worked as a barber and later as casual labourer in Ngeria centre where I would earn Sh3,000 a month and also at a construction site near Eldoret town. I consolidated all my earnings and used the money to buy steel frames, a motor bike engine and meet the welding costs for my project,” he said.

At the welding workshop, located at Ngeria junction, where it all came together, Kipchirchir introduced us to his friend Shadrack Sang who helped him push the ‘chopper’ to the recruitment venue.


Although Sang was himself unsuccessful at the recruitment exercise, he said Kipchirchir deserved the position due to his resilience.

“There were times he would go without food saving funds to pay his mechanic. Many thought he was mad because of the time he spent working on his machine but it is this determination that has seen him realise his dream,” he said.

Apart from his family, Kipchirchir attributes his success to the workshop’s owner Barnabas Togom, William Kandie, his mechanic Antony Shiringi and other friends who gave him moral support and assisted him financially.


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