Wissam Mohammed Kazem says his plane cost him about 1.2 mn Iraqi dinars to build and another 1 mn in bail money
Iraqi Wissam Mohammad Kazem, a 25-year-old generator repairman, fixes his ultralight aircraft in the back yard of his home in Rumaitha, south of Baghdad on Wednesday. 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. © - - AFP
Wissam Mohammed Kazem says his plane cost him about 1.2 mn Iraqi dinars to build and another 1 mn in bail money
AFP
Last updated: April 12, 2012

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.

"Police detained me for four hours the first time my aircraft flew," the 25-year-old told AFP by telephone, adding the flight lasted for about two minutes.

"They confiscated my airplane according to an order from the judiciary" for "making it without official approval," he said.

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.

"I only want to avoid prosecution and return to my work to pay off my debts," Kazem said, though he did call on the Iraqi government to support innovators and inventors because it would "serve the country."

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.

"If I had flown higher I would have really gotten into trouble," the 60-year-old said.

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."

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