Monday, January 17, 2011

January 17th

Fresh Air Matters... with Capt. Yaw
Harmattan bites hard this January, as expected.  The dust gets into every nook and cranny and leaves its distinctive, unpleasant, taste on our lips, and visibility hampered.   Therefore, our aircraft have sat in their hangars, waiting for visibility to increase sufficiently for safe flight operations.

In Europe and North America the snow and fog has had a similar effect, not only on the light aircraft operations, but also on the heavier metal, with delays and cancellations galore.

In aviation terms, this weather is known as ‘Hangar Flying’ weather.  Weather where you talk about flying, because the visibility is too low to actually fly.  Aviation related topics, become the stock and trade of the hangar flyer.  Imagine a group of grounded pilots sitting on old tyres at the edge of a hangar, looking at the gloomy Harmattan/snow/fog and talking, incessantly, about a) what they have done, b) what others have done, c) what they want to do and d) what they are going to do. 

Most of what they claim to have done will be exaggerated; their stories of others’ achievements will be embellished, their depiction of what they want to do based on making a good impression, and their declarations of what they are actually going to do more smoke and mirrors than substance.  But they enjoy their time, chatting and dreaming – and nobody can take that away from them.  The majority of dreams will never make it to a vision, because of distractions from declared intentions. 

I remember days like this in Europe.  We would all dream of going to Africa, starting flying doctors and humanitarian aviation programmes; an affordable flying school for young Africans, and an engineering base of repute.  Today, out of the many that I sat with and shared those dreams, I am the only one from the group who actually kept to the hangar flying dream - turning it into a vision and something that is making history.  I assure you that the challenge of bringing such dreams to reality is harder than ever considered whilst sitting in a hangar, during fog in Europe!  I can also assure you that the rewards are far greater – not in financial terms, but in personal satisfaction – the greatest reward of all.

No matter where you are in the world, you can always witness a similar type of event to Hangar Flying … it is called discussion group, talk-shop, oops, I mean workshop, parliament, council or the senate or something similar.  In such places, you get a lot of people who are put into a room, unable to do anything that day but sit and talk.  Their visibility is often shrouded by fog and Harmattan of administrative natures, and their direction diverted by the oft forgotten fact that they must answer one day for their inactions.  They sit there, pontificating, procrastinating, propositioning, arguing and, often, complaining.  Talking incessantly about:-  a) what they have done, b) what others have done, c) what they want to do and d) what they are going to do!

I leave it up to your experience and judgement in your field as to what the chances are that most of what they claim to have done will be exaggerated, their stories of others’ achievements will be embellished, their depiction of what they want to do based on making a good impression and their declarations of what they are actually going to do more smoke and mirrors than substance! 

Of course, at times, intentions of some are well meaning, but the lack of cooperation and perseverance from others will fail them – do note that it is rarely lack of physical cash – it is mainly the lack of human endeavour, effort and desire to see a project through/support it that results in the failure of projects to see the light of day!  Those without abundant cash are often more dedicated and creative, and know the value of ‘sweat capital’, the missing resource for success in so, so many projects.

This does raise the issue, a worldwide phenomenon, of the changing face of the News.  For me, the media is supposed to be reporting about what has happened, what has been achieved – or failed.   Yet, more and more there is noise about the ‘perhaps-future’ – most of which, seems to me, to be the reporting of ‘Hangar Flying talk’.  

Sadly, from time to time, there are those who make the news with a future statement made in good faith.  That statement gets publicised – at times with some corruption of the original facts - and then those who took the glory from the statement fail to support the person or persons who are ready and willing to make it a reality. 

I know that in November, when asked ‘What we would do for the North?’, we promised to take a road-show to Tamale in February, put together a plan, sought support from those in high office and those with resources – and received promises of co-operation.  Hangar Flying promises.  Although we may mean with all our hearts and all the resources at our disposition to make it happen, that promise has, today, been snatched from the lives of the young people of Tamale by the very people who are supposed to support them.

We did promise to take a road-show to the North, and it will go ahead, but not to Tamale, sadly.  No, those who agreed to support the Tamale effort when we sat on our ‘metaphorical tyres’, and those who were subsequently invited to be a part of it, who have not followed up on their part, have discouraged and prevented the Tamale events realisation.  Right now, they should be angry, for they have much to be angry about – angry at themselves for not taking their ‘Hangar Flying’ seriously.  Our efforts will be redirected towards others who appreciate development, not just want to bask in headlines for a day.

You will read in the coming editions of Fresh Air Matters, about how we are actively preparing to take aviation inspiration on a road-show (since the visibility is too low to fly), as we set out on a total of six half-day events in the Northern and Brong Ahafo regions, once again making sure that our Hangar Flying dreams make it to reality. 

These events are about educating and inspiring young people.  Inspiration is a great gift, and it is often inspired by ‘golden headlines’, only to be turned sour by the lack of dedication and effort to make it come true; by the ‘failure by omission of effort’ of a few that leads to individuals, and whole communities, feeling let down and disappointed. 

So, if you are Hangar Flying at work today, in the office, in a conference centre or in some more prestigious edifice of a building, make sure that you live up to the dreams that you are meant to turn into visions, and on into realities, for this country needs them now, not at some far off point shrouded, dulled and hidden by the Harmattan of excuses.

Capt. Yaw is Chief Flying Instructor and Chief Engineer at WAASPS,  and lead Pilot with Medicine on the Move, Humanitarian Aviation Logistics ( e-mail

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