Successful First Flight
Never in the history of Nepal had any aircraft been designed, built and flown in the country. So when two Pulchowk Engineering Campus students began to think about what their final year project would be for their academic exams, the idea of designing and building an aircraft came to mind. Ganesh Ram Sinkemana and Bikash Parajuli established the Danfe Aircraft Fabrication Group and enlisted the help of six other students, namely Rabindra Shrestha, Ramesh Ranabhat, Anil Maharjan, Prasant Malla, Dipesh Poudel and Baburam Kharel.
Research on designing and building an aircraft began immediately, as the team pulled together to create the aircraft, named Danfe, after two years of tireless work and research. The Danfe resembles an ultra-light trike and has a maximum take-off weight of four hundred kilograms. Materials used to build the aircraft were sourced in Nepal and an Austrian sixty-five horse power Rotax 582 engine was used to power Danfe. It cost the team an estimated one million Nepali rupees, or twelve thousand five hundred US dollars, to complete the aircraft and once complete their only obstacle was to convince the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal to give them the authorization to test fly their two-seater aircraft.
After months of waiting, permission was finally given for a test flight. In front of a crowd of spectators, which included the Minister of Environment, Science and Technology, Ganesh Sah, and airport officials, Danfe took to the skies. It is estimated that the aircraft is capable of speeds of two hundred kilometers an hour and can fly at heights of six thousand feet, but for its test flight on Friday, 5 December 2008, it was only permitted to fly at twenty-five meters. As Danfe touched down after flying one and a half kilometers over Pokhara, the joy and pride of all those involved in the project could be heard and felt through their celebration. Due to there not being many Nepali pilots, the honor of flying the first Nepali built aircraft was given to Alexander Maximov, a pilot from Russia who has a Nepali license.
Ganesh Sah was so impressed with the test flight that he commented that he would be looking into the creation of a fund that would support the research into further developments of technology and science. Seeing their dream become a reality was a great moment for both Sinkemana and Parajuli. Their research and efforts have opened a new doorway in the technology of Nepal and laid the ground work for future students with a passion for aviation.