Monday, November 22, 2010

Kpong Airfield, Ghana - 7

November 16 was a Muslim holiday so there was no school. Students headed off to do more shopping, enjoying Knaeshie Market in Accra, and time in a rather quaint area of the capital named Osu. For us, it was the day to find Kpong Airfield. Wherever we travel we must find an airport.
It’s challenging here, however, when there are only 8 general aviation airfields in the entire country. Fortunately a pilot friend back home, Gary, had located one only one hour north of where we are staying, so that’s where we headed.

Another challenge was finding a driver who knew where to take us. Uncle Tee is our driver of choice. We called him and worked out a charge for the journey, as we explained where we wanted to go. I do believe this involved some laughter on both our parts as we bridged the communication gap.

We left the city behind and headed north on our mission, arriving just one hour later at Kpong Airfield, south of the town of Kpong. We were shown around by Jonathan Porter, the owner and operator, who is originally from Great Britain. He has an interesting operation, trying to run a flight school for Ghanaians. Points are earned by the students instead of grades on their class work, and after they earn 60 points they can “spend” them on flight lessons, driving lessons, and other services. All are girls who are daring to dream. Patricia (in the white top) is already licensed and is beginning to do some instruction. She is excited and passionate about her work, and dreams to be the first black woman to be an aerobatic pilot – and travel to Oshkosh, WI.

Students come from poor families who could not otherwise afford this type of option for their children. Funding comes from donations and company support from Zenith aircraft and Rotax Engines, as well as other small sponsors. Funding is inadequate, so fund raising and other methods of raising money to keep the operation running are ongoing. The girls currently do maintenance at the airpark, and are learning to build and maintain the Zenith kit-built aircraft. They are learning engineering (mechanic) skills as they learn to fly. All have built confidence through the program and are learning to dream. Excited and intrigued, we rode back to Tema, planning another visit to the airpark before we leave the country. Maybe there would be an opportunity to fly over the countryside. A flat tire delayed our trip slightly, but two young men came out of the brush (a very common occurrence), and got us on our way in no time. Just another day in Paradise.


Anonymous said...

I look forward to hearing how Daryl's flight goes! Carolyn Kamees

Sandy K. said...

Unfortunately we didn't get a chance to take that flight. The last weekend we were in Africa we thought we were set to go- then one of the students became ill and another type of journey took place. flying. Actually, it looked a bit scary, to me!