Billericay (Essex): During the Covid pandemic lockdowns, a Keralite living in the UK, who had dreams to soar the sky decided to build a plane in the back garden in Billericay, Essex.
It was not a model plane or a Meccano construction but an airworthy, four-seater Sling TSi.
38-year-old India-origin engineer- Ashok Aliseril from Alappuzha in Kerala, along with his family fulfilled their year-long dream after finally completing building a small plane in their backyard garden. His wife Abhilasha Dubey, and his children Tara and Diya couldn’t wait to get on the air after completing the 1,500-hour, £140,000 project. Moreover, they spent over 2 years completing their dream project.
Ashok is about to take a test flight with Tim Hardy, the UK distributor for Sling. While he has a full pilot’s licence, Ashok needs to complete five supervised hours at the controls and undertake 15 landings before he can take to the skies with his family.
Both Ashok, an engineer for Ford, and data analyst Abi, 35, hail from India. They each came to the UK to study for a Masters degree, first met online, then married in 2011 before setting up a home in Billericay.
Abi admits she was taken aback initially, but quickly became sold on the idea after Ashok went through the finances with her and explained the possibilities it might open up for them.
In January 2020, Ashok flew to South Africa for a test flight at Sling’s headquarters in Johannesburg. On his return, he promptly ordered the plane’s £3,500 tail kit — and while he was waiting for it to arrive, set about another project: building an aircraft hangar in the back garden.
‘As we had a big garden, it made sense to use it because hangars can cost £400 a month during the build phase,’ he says.
So with the help of friends, he assembled a £700 hangar measuring five metres by three metres, in time for the arrival of the tail kit in mid-March.
He needs to complete another four landings and a few hours with an instructor before he can take command himself, while Abi is also studying for her pilot’s licence so they can share the controls on those mini-breaks.