‘Helicopter’ man’s handiwork enough to scare criminals
Hendrick Chebanga’s creative handiwork is enough to make criminals stop in their tracks and do a double take.
The 30-year-old son of a carpenter from Zimbabwe has become the talk of Dilopye village‚ near Hammanskraal in Gauteng‚ earning himself an alias – “the helicopter man”.
Using iron sheets and scrap‚ he built a replica police helicopter that at first glance so closely resembles the real thing that it’s enough to send chills down the spines of hardened criminals.
Chebanga gave his helicopter the tail number ZS-HMC which stands for Hendrick Monalisa (the latter the name of his wife) Chebanga.
“I have always been fascinated by engineering designs and I used to make pocket money by building toy wire cars for my friends. My dream was to study engineering but my parents did not have money to send me to university after matric so I packed my bags and headed for South Africa after matriculating in 2005‚” said Chebanga.
He then started building and selling toy cars using corrugated iron sheets‚ which enabled him to survive but his dreams were too big for small toys so he started designing a helicopter.
For eight months‚ working 12 hours a day in the backyard of his shack‚ Chebanga produced a helicopter measuring 1.5 metres in height and painted the model in blue and white police colours‚ complete with the SAPS insignia on the front.
For the instrument panel in the cockpit‚ he used discarded speedometers and a home telephone that resembles a radio to make the cockpit look real.
“I even installed a blue light and a police siren‚” he said.
Every weekend at the end of the month‚ Chebanga pulls the helicopter on a trailer to the nearby main road connecting Soshanguve and Hammanskraal where he puts it on display‚ allowing people to take photographs to raise funds for an engine‚ which he said would cost him about R6‚000.
He said that the helicopter was not designed to take to the skies because he had used weak material. But once he has raised enough money for an engine‚ he plans to make the machine more robust.
“Between May and September this year the helicopter was on display at the Pretoria West police college after police management spotted it while on display. I had to bring it back because people were complaining‚ saying they want their helicopter back‚” said Chebannga.
He said whenever his helicopter was on display at the busy intersection‚ motorists scrambled to fasten their seatbelts and were on their best behaviour‚ thinking it was a police stop. “So people love it because whenever would-be criminals see it‚ they behave‚” he said.
Chebanga said his biggest dream was to study engineering and design cars.
Vusimuzi Mbatha‚ an unemployed man living in an informal settlement near Rustenburg made headlines in 2015 when he built his own military helicopter‚ using scrap.