He learned about aeroplanes on the internet, then built one in his yard out of scrap metal.
But despite five years’ work and a lot of chutzpah, Kenyan IT consultant Gabriel Nderitu has been thwarted yet again in his bid to fly a homemade craft – complete with wings, propeller, a cockpit and even go-faster stripes.
Dozens of friends helped push the married father-of-two’s contraption through the dusty Kenyan countryside until its landing gear collapsed and it spluttered to a halt, to the sound of laughing children.
Failure: Just as the flight looked like a success, the plane’s landing gear began to buckle under its weight
Back to the drawing board: One onlooker jumped over the tail as the planed collapsed
The part-time entrepreneur has already made more than 10 planes but has never managed to get any of them off the ground, Kenyan news website DailyNation reported.
Many of his prototypes have been deemed too heavy, while another crashed on two concrete poles and broke a propeller. Yet despite the latest setback, he insists he will keep trying to get himself airborne.
He told Kenyan news channel Citizen TV: ‘I will go back to the drawing board and design the landing gear better, and also study a little bit more about landing gear.’
The IT consultant, whose firm Fincom is based in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, found scrap aluminium bars, hollow tubes, bolts and plastic sheeting to make his planes – sticking it all together with some gum.
He has spent more than a million Kenyan shillings (£7,100) on his hobby and learned almost everything he knows on the internet.
Must try harder: Mr Nderitu told an interviewer he would go back and study how landing gear worked
Hobbyist: Gabriel with one of his earlier prototypes, complete with a wooden propeller
Efforts: The entrepreneur has made more than 10 scrap metal planes, but many have been too heavy to fly
He said in an earlier interview: ‘My boyhood interest was in aviation so maybe it was a missed career that I’m trying to recreate’.
His plane is powered by an engine which was once used to mill animal feed.
If and when Gabriel finally succeeds in his mission he could be named as the first Kenyan ever to successfully fly a homemade aeroplane.
A hardcore set of young, male hobbyists in Africa are busy trying to beat him to the title.
Farmhand Onesmus Mwangi, from the Nairobi district of Magomano, managed to build a 25kg helicopter from scrap material which he flew a foot off the ground – but was fired when his boss said the media attention was distracting him from his work.
The enthusiasts often hope their prowess will gain them attention from engineering firms in wealthier parts of Europe which could fund a new life.
Success story: Mubarak Abdullahi, 24, won a scholarship to study aircraft maintenance in the UK after he made this bright yellow helicopter using a Honda Civic engine in Kano, Nigeria, in 2007
One success story is of 24-year-old Nigerian physics student Mubarak Muhammed Abdullahi, who spent nearly a year building a 39ft long helicopter out of spare parts sourced from old cars, motorcycles, and even a crashed Boeing 747.
He used money he saved from repairing cell phones and computers.
His bright yellow contraption – with a salvaged Honda Civic engine – was completed in 2007 and could reach heights of 7ft. It helped secure him a scholarship to study aircraft maintenance in the UK.
The men’s trial-and-error approach is reminiscent of early experiments by the Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur.
The American inventors made more than 1,000 test flights using gliders before they first managed to get a self-propelled plane off the ground on December 17, 1903.