Man Builds Airplane For Family in His Backyard Shed

by Alex Falls
Edwin Remsberg / Getty

A man in the UK is making headlines for building his very own airplane after an inspiring story of his family supporting his love of flying. The story begins when mechanical engineer Ashok Aliseril Thamarakshan moved with his family near an airfield over a decade ago.

After expressing an interest in flying, his wife bought him a 30-minute flight experience for his birthday one year. He then started booking flying lessons at his local airfields.

“That was quite an eye opener into how [flying] gives you the freedom to just go places if you have that ability, and access to an aircraft,” Thamarakshan told CNN Travel. “So that really got me hooked.”

He eventually obtained his pilot’s license in 2019. But as he grew his flying experience, so to did he grow his family. Thamarakshan and his wife now have two daughters. But the typical two-seater planes couldn’t suit his growing family. So he decided to instead build to his to not only transport his family comfortably but to also gain a better understanding of how planes operate.

To begin the project, he constructed a small shed in his back garden and planned out the different stages of the build. He would be monitored by the Light Aircraft Authority, a UK representative body that oversees the construction and maintenance of home-built aircraft, under approval from the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Building an Airplane Dream in the Backyard

After researching self-assembly aircraft kits, he came across a four-seater plane manufactured by Sling Aircraft that appeared to be perfect for his needs.

“These aircraft kits are designed for any amateur to build, provided you’re a bit hands-on and you’ve got experience working with some specialist tools,” Thamarakshan said. He described the kit as “Ikea furniture type instructions” with drawings that came with it. “I would say generally, anyone can get involved in these sorts of builds.

Each stage of the project had to be inspected by an aviation official before he could move on to the next task. The Light Aircraft Authority completed around 12 inspections in total. The aircraft passed its final inspection in January 2022. But he didn’t get to fly it first. An aircraft official piloted the test run. Then, after years of work, Thamarakshan finally got the chance to step in the cockpit of his very own plane.

“I was feeling very nervous, I didn’t want to put any extra stress on it,” Thamarakshan said. “But he [the test pilot] was really pushing it to the limits. And it was good to experience that. I know that it can handle this much. Once I landed, he clapped his hands and said ‘Congratulations, you’ve just landed the plane you built.’ That was a great feeling.”

The following weekend, Aliseril flew with his wife and daughters, Diya and Tara, to the Isle of Wight in his very own airplane. They took a short taxi ride from the airfield to the beach.

“The kids were really happy,” Thamarakshan said. “So that sort of freedom. And the fact that we could just do that on a Saturday and still be back by 4 p.m. That was a great feeling.”