Monday, November 1, 2010

November 1

Fresh Air Matters... with Capt. Yaw
If all things are equal, by the time you read this, I and others, will be en-route on an around Ghana flight.  This should make the next few weeks articles a little more interesting!  Furthermore, the Wednesday Aerial Picture of the Week will take a wider tour than usual.

Meanwhile, in preparation, here we are, still planning the route, considering alternates, fuel burn calculations and imagining the challenges, and putting safety first in all things.

I am sure that, by now, you are asking yourself ‘Why fly around Ghana?’, which would be a good question.  Of course, it goes along with ‘Why climb a mountain?’ and ‘Why walk to the North Pole?’, as a challenge, which always gets the response ‘Because it is there, and it has to be done!’

The reasons for this ‘Tour de Ghana’ or the ‘All Over Ghana Flight’, sponsored by Expresso Telecom – Dare to Dream, is complex and multi-faceted.  First of all, Ghana is a magnificent, varied and charming country.  Secondly, as far we can ascertain, no civilian team has completed this trip before.  Thirdly, nobody has attempted anything like this in an aircraft built in Ghana.  And as if that were not enough, because it will raise awareness of Medicine on the Move (MoM), the Humanitarian Aviation Logistics operation.  This route, sponsored by Expresso, the telecommunication network behind the enigmatic ‘Cliq’ adverts and EVDO mobile data service, weather permitting, should take in all ten regional capitals.  The sponsorship twist is that we will be flying all over Ghana, and Expresso covers all of Ghana with their telecoms service.  Personally, I prefer the CDMA technology over GSM, and I really hope that their project is successful – mainly because it will mean that we can get great in-flight phone coverage and real time weather images from the internet due to the extended range of their equipment.  Other sponsors of this event include UT Bank, Wire Weaving Industries, Atlantic Group and the BFT.  The flight is a MoM flight, and the aviation logistics is provided by WAASPS, who also built the aircraft and trained the Ghanaian crewmembers. 
On Monday the first of November, the date of this edition, we will set off with two CH701 aircraft, built by Ghanaian young ladies, from Kpong Airfield in the Eastern Region early in the morning.  The first leg of the route will take us over the Akuapem-Togo range to Koforidua, celebrating the first regional capital on the list and giving Eastern Region its placement early on.  Routing slightly to the south, we will then set a cap on Cape Coast.  This should give a wonderful view of the coast and the variety of castles along the way (perhaps we can get a picture, or two or probably more, for the Photo of the Week for this newspaper).  The Central Region is fascinating, with what I call ‘God’s putty landscapes’.  It is as if God had some spare sod left over from making the planet, and threw it down to make fufu balls of hillocks in the middle of the Central region. 

As we fly into the Western Region, looking out to sea for the oil rigs, we will then position ourselves to enter the pattern at Takoradi, waiting for an appropriate moment to land.  Once landed, we will stretch our legs, pay any courtesy calls to the ‘facilities’ before setting off for Mim, the Cashew Capital of Ghana in Brong Ahafo.  At Mim we will do a low pass, celebrating Ghana’s newest airfield before the short leg away from the multi-coloured cashew trees into Sunyani.

We are no strangers at Sunyani, and have enjoyed operating from there before, but this day will be different.  This time we will be stepping upwards and outwards, across the Northern Region, towards the Upper West at first light the next day. 

The route from Sunyani to Wa routes past the picturesque Black Volta and its hippos near the Bui dam construction site, then over the Mole game reserve and its plethora of fauna.  Stretching legs at Wa will be a first for the crewmembers, since, as far as I know, none of us have had the pleasure to visit the Upper West Capital’s runway.  In fact this is a leg that I am really looking forward to.  A couple of years ago I flew over the Bui dam as they started construction, it will be great to see the developments now, as well as to go to the Upper West for the first time.  Some of the rock formations as you fly northwards are outstanding and can only be appreciated from a low-and-slow aerial platform – which means we are in for a treat!

After Wa, weather and time permitting, we will swing out to the North East, past Upper East’s capital of Bolgatanga, before routing south to Tamale.  It is a long way out of the way from a direct flight to Tamale, but we really want to visit all of the capitals, if we possibly can.  Tamale is a wonderful place to visit, and I have fond memories of being at the airport there in 1994.  The only problem with Tamale is that it is so far away, if it were closer we would all love to visit it more often.  The Northern Region capital is so different to Accra, Kumasi and Takoradi in the South.  When visiting last, I was enthralled by the bird life in the city.  Whereas Accra has the famous ’37 Bats’, so the weaver birds of Tamale should have equal celebrity status.

On leaving Tamale, on Wednesday morning, we will be routing roughly south to fly past Techiman en-route to Kumasi.  Kumasi is a regular stop-over, and it will be nice to be landing back at a familiar airfield.  We will not be able to linger long at the centre of Ashanti-land, before we head due-East to see Ho in the Volta Region before returning to Kpong Airfield.  With a top of fuel, we will then head to Accra, where we plan to touch the wheels on the tarmac at the busiest airfield in Ghana, and, all things being equal, complete a trip to take in the ten capitals of the regions, and a few other sights of note!

If after reading this you are still asking ‘Why?’ then you need to read this again, with a more open mind.  We must all be ready to ‘Dare to Dream’, and if we dare, we may just realise that we can discover new places, establish that it can be done, and gain even greater motivation towards the next dream, which grows to become a vision, and then to a reality.  There is so much to see and discover in Ghana, and doing it by air is a great way.  Moreover, using the flying doctor aircraft, piloted by a dynamic, young Ghanaian lady pilot, will provide evidence and confidence in a wider range of people and potential advocates of Ghanaian Humanitarian Aviation Logistics.  You can follow our progress in the special blog posts via and

Capt. Yaw is Chief Flying Instructor and Chief Engineer at WAASPS – The Best Flying Experience in West Africa (   e-mail

No comments:

Post a Comment