Trelawny mechanic makes helicopter in backyard
A Trelawny man is hoping to stun Jamaica by building his very own fully operational helicopter.
What started as a dream decades ago is steadily becoming a reality for Noel Malcolm of Duanvale in the parish.
Malcolm, who is a mechanic, has been working on the project since the 1970s and has had success in constructing a rotorcraft. A second two-seat prototype currently sits in his yard. Malcolm is trying to build another type of engine, given that the current engine only allows the craft to achieve a hover.
"The engine in the helicopter now is a 160-horsepower piston engine. It weighs over 350 pounds and has enough power to fly two people weighing up to 400 pounds," Malcolm explained to the Western Star.
"My main objective is to get a gas-turbine engine up and running. The gas-turbine engine, even if it weighs less or up to 350 pounds, can push out more power. I'm in the testing phase with the gas turbine," the do-it-yourselfer added.
The helicopter's body is metallic, while the rotors are made from fibreglass.
REALISING HIS DREAM
According to Malcolm, he had parked the project when he became a family man but decided to revive the initiative in recent years because he will not feel satisfied until his dream is fully realised.
"The goal is not just to try and show Jamaica that we can build these things, but I am passionate about my country, and I believe in production. Aviation is another line that I see where we can ... [be] just as successful as any other country," Malcolm said.
He said that as a youth, he had always been fascinated with aeroplanes and helicopters and wanted to build one despite everyone around him telling him to give up. He moved to Kingston in his teens, where he visited the libraries and studied books on aviation. With
enough knowledge, he began experimenting. That led to him building his first prototype, which, he said, the Jamaica Defence Force got a whiff of back in the day.
"They came down, and immediately when they see the project, they want me to come camp same time. I worked up there as a mechanic and tried to learn all I can on the side. I wanted to attend aviation classes where they had a gas-turbine engine but was barred by an instructor for no apparent reason. So I had to throw down the gas turbine and pick up back the VW Piston engine, which I had more knowledge in," he explained.
"I now know that gas turbine is the way to go, and so, I want to build an engine that gives a better performance over a long distance. It is lighter and produces more power," he said.