Iraqi's homemade plane lands him in jail

Iraqi's homemade plane lands him in jail

Wissam Mohammed Kazem took off in south Iraq in a homemade plane, but his love of aviation ultimately landed him in jail for making the aircraft without approval.

Another Iraqi ended up in trouble 30 years ago over a homemade helicopter, indicating that then, as now, it is not in one’s interest to make and pilot flying machines at home here.

Kazem said his plane cost him about 1.2 million Iraqi dinars (about $1,000) to build, and, as it turned out, another one million dinars (about $850) in bail money.

The generator repairman from Rumaitha, near Samawa south of Baghdad, said he constructed the small engine-powered aircraft out of metal pipes, aluminium sheets, wood and fabric over seven months.

It does not have any instruments.

Rumaitha police chief Colonel Saaran al-Shammari confirmed Kazem was arrested and detained for several hours for constructing the aircraft without authorisation.

Kazem’s flight on April 4 was his second attempt. His first failed three years ago.

He said he has now decided to give up his aviation dreams.

Kazem is not the first Iraqi to take to the skies in a makeshift aircraft.

In 1982 in Aziziya, 70 kilometres (43 miles) south of Baghdad, Amr Jassem Mohammed, a former technician in the nuclear industry under Saddam Hussein who had become a fuel pump repairman, made an electrically powered helicopter on the roof of his house that flew about two metres (six feet) high.

Saddam’s security forces sought to arrest him, “but I had friends in the Baath party who buried the case,” Mohammed said, adding that “there is always a conspiracy against the talented and the inventors in Iraq.”