Believe it or not! 7-year-old Ugandan boy flies aircraft, wants to travel to Mars
Graham Shema is an avid admirer of SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and wants to be a pilot and an astronaut
What does a seven-year-old usually do? He would either be running around in the playground with his little friends or be busy with his clouring book and crayons or throwing a tantrum to have his parents buy him that flashy new toy car he had seen on the shop window.
But flying an aeroplane? A real one. Not running around with a toy aeroplane held over his head. Nobody would think even in their wildest dreams that you could actually pilot a real plane at age seven.
But that is what Graham Shema from Uganda has achieved, according to a Daily Mail report. This feat has made the child a celebrity not only in Uganda but across the world since the time his story started to spread like wildfire on social media, earning him the right to be called a genius. He is already being called 'Captain' because of his precocious display of aircraft knowledge and flying skills.
Graham has already flown thrice on the Cessna 172 as a trainee. This four-seater, high-wing monoplane has been an extremely popular choice for flight training schools for more than 60 years. Generations of pilots have got their first flying lessons in the Cessna 172 and considering that the plane is easy to fly and designed to withstand less-than-perfect landings, it has been the number one choice for budding pilots, according to a BBC article.
Graham's interest in flying was triggered by a freak incident. Once near Kampala, Graham was playing outdoors. A police helicopter flew so low to the ground that it nearly blew off the roof of his grandmother's house. "It triggered something in his mind," said Graham's mother Shamim Mwanaisha, who works in a travel agency.
Since then Shamim had to face a barrage of questions from her child on how aeroplanes work, till one day, she contacted a local flight training school, and Graham started learning at home about aircraft parts and aircraft jargon.
Five months later, Graham started flying and said that he felt "like a bird flying up" on his first flight.
Graham is good in theoretical knowledge too. Once when his instructor at Uganda's Entebbe International Airport asked him how the engines worked on a Bombardier CRJ9000 parked on the tarmac, Graham replied effortlessly: "The inlet tubes suck in the air and inject it into the compressor, the compressor squeezes it with the fans, after squeezing it with the fans, it becomes hot."
Graham loves mathematics and science and wants to be a pilot and an astronaut. He wishes to travel to Mars as well someday. An avid admirer of SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Graham, in his white shirt and black slacks, said that Musk is his role model and that he wants to learn with him about space and go with him in space. He also hopes he can shake Musk's hand. Musk's SpaceX had recently launched two Americans into orbit and plans to carry humans to Mars, Reuters reported.
Graham has been interviewed on local television. The German ambassador and the country's transport minister have also invited him for meetings.
In the wake of Covid-19 pandemic and the resultant restrictions, Graham has been concentrating on aviation theory for the time being and closely watching videos about aviation and space exploration on his virtual reality viewer.
Graham also has a Twitter account @captshemagraham and already has 23 followers, which is quite a lot for a seven-year-old.