Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Photo of the week May 29th, 2013

Once again the weather is in the news. Floods, people killed by lightning strikes, tornadoes and related damage. Climate change is REAL, it is happening, and has been happening for thousands of years - it is just that it appears to be becoming more extreme. The Cumulonimbus cloud, as shown here, is a rain bearing cloud of great vertical extent, with extremely fast moving air, and is generally associated with thunderstorms and heavy rain. Do not let its beauty deceive you, for this cloud carries greater destructive potential than you would at first imagine. Not only can such clouds drop over a million tons of water in a single storm, updraughts inside the clouds move at speeds in the tens of thousands of feet pre minute and the transient temperature of the lightening bolt is greater than the surface of our sun! (the surface of the sun is around 6,000C and yet a lightening bolts plasma core reaches around 30,000C albeit for a fraction of a second). Never underestimate the power of the weather, and be ever vigilant, as it is currently changing the way we go about many of our activities, from farming to flying, building to sailing. Watch the sky, it is beautiful and powerful. Photo courtesy of WAASPS Ltd. changing lives one flight at a time, and teaching aviation meteorology as part of flight training programmes.

Monday, May 27, 2013

May 27th, 2013

Fresh Air Matters... with Capt. Yaw

Continuing from last week: With passports, visas and tickets in hand, you would think that travelling with young rural folks would be easy… well…

Even at the airport, and ready to travel, the airline can still refuse travel if they don’t like your paperwork – so make sure it is right before you go to check in. Assuming your baggage is reasonable in size and mass, you will soon be issued your boarding passes and on your way to the start of a string of new experiences…

The escalator ride to the first floor may well be the first escalator that our traveller will encounter, and it needs a safety briefing! Immigration will look at paperwork, for the first time traveller this is getting old – how many times in twenty minutes will somebody check their papers! The security screening and pat-down can cause quite a stir, even if you have warned before-hand. Such activities are not normal in the rural parts. A request to remove shoes, run hands over your body and look inside personal belongings is a NEW experience to the first time traveller, and one that can feel very invasive, especially to a young woman who has never experienced this before.

After a seemingly endless wait, one is invited to board the aircraft, but first there is the bus ride. The final cramming of the bus ride to the plane, the fight for seats and a place to lodge the luggage aboard feels totally normal – that makes everybody feel at home! It is just like a tro-tro!

Imagine you have never been on an airliner. Accompaniers will have to explain the inflight entertainment. A personal TV and personal food table, not sharing space with others is very new… Then, there is the looking out of the window - there is so much to see – for the first ten minutes. Airliners fly above the clouds – and for extended, boring, periods.

The time taken to reach the destination is long and it requires a great deal of attention to the enquiring minds of first time travellers. With luck they will sleep – but then there is the food and drink. The food is presented in a new way. It offers international flavours and ‘lacks spice’. The in-flight catering is not aimed at young people from rural places.

As we drop through the clouds to land there is a renewed excitement – things to see – and that renews the vigour of the day. Touchdown, and the disembarkation is smooth. Travellers are tired, and HUNGRY. The luggage has to be delivered on a conveyer belt – and it appears as if the luggage is never going to show. Impatience and complaints about the bitter cold, even inside the terminal building and wearing the ‘free’ blankets from the aircraft, pulls the spirits down. Finally, baggage arrives and spirits are lifted, until outside. HOW COLD it is… and the shivers start (it is 15C).

Our first time travellers will have to wear layers of clothes to sleep in. They will discover the duvet cover and look for all the world like fat caterpillars waiting to transform into chrysalises. Little forlorn faces pleading for more heat in the world, and resisting leaving the bed, disembodied by the masses of clothes and covers used to preserve precious heat.

Bathing is also a challenge. In Ghana we are used to just one tap – a cold tap – but not cold like in Europe! Ghana’s water runs from the tap a pleasant luke-warm, a refreshing temperature!

The two taps of Europe must be managed together to avoid cryogenic storage or lobster boiling moments. Be ready for the travellers legs. ‘Our legs look like old lady’s legs’ will be the comment. The lack of warmth and low humidity leave’s the skin looking wrinkled and dry. Thermal leggings are a good solution.

Despite the shivers, the happy moments will exceed the challenges. Seeing new things, discovering new ideas, witnessing smooth roads and well maintained cars. Then there are the little things: the cows are bigger and fatter; the corn is all the same height; there is order; there is rarely rubbish on the streets; the sheep have their coats shaved off to make warm clothes for humans; the sky is a different colour; the clouds different; people dress using less colourful cloth; that is a train; that is an old person with an electric buggy going shopping - the list is interminable, and the enquiring minds must be satisfied. You must remember that almost everything is new. The information flow is constant…

All of this experiential knowledge is being poured onto the young person’s brain, via eyes, ears, nose, skin and tongue – and some of it seeps in. The information overload is so great, yet the information continues to pour over them. In all of this they cannot change a thing.

There is the comfort of ‘food’. Food that reminds us of home, can trigger a comfort reflex in our whole body. When we cannot find something to satisfy our ‘conditioned since birth to a particular type of food’ tummies, we become grouchy. Very grouchy. No matter how magnificent the food on offer is, when we overload our ‘sensory systems’, we need to latch onto something that is solid.

Food is important for young travellers. Everything is out of their control. The temperature, where they go, how they go there, what they see, even their clothes are not their regular ones. Food is a place of solace.

In European restaurants the food is generally designed to please the tongue more than fill the tummy. Flavours are more important than quantities. Freshness more important than stodginess. For young travellers I find that the company canteen is always a winner, ‘working man’s food’. A big chunk of fish with a thick sauce and a bundle of rice, accompanied by a spicy soup that hits the ‘bingo’ mark of food memories. Number two is the ‘pub grub’, again the large plate of meaty chunks with lots of sauce! Number three is the Turkish Donna Kebab joint – meat with spicy sauce!

Bottom of the ‘yummy’ list for those I have travelled with is ‘the posh restaurants’, regardless of the asparagus’ tender attempts at savoury seduction, it is too far from home. The small portions, and the meat that still has a little pink in the middle, is outside of the ‘acceptable’ zone for somebody on their first trip. A sharp tasting vegetable such as rocket can trigger a loud ‘yuuuuuuk that tastes like neem tree’ response.

The most common complaints we have encountered are FOOD, COLD and TIREDNESS (mainly from learning so much in such a short time).

Being aware of these things can help to smooth such a trip. Despite all the challenges, it really is worth it. Knowing that they will now have the ability to speak with confidence and conviction about ‘how it is outside’. They are empowered – and that was always the aim of travel exposure. If you get the chance to accompany young people on a first trip abroad, embrace the moments – and enjoy being a part of the change in thinking that such a trip will make.

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

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Photo of the week May 22nd, 2013

As the farming season gets under-way, we continue to notice from the air the lack of coordinated efforts in land use.  All over the country we see 'strip farming' and often see the same tractor returning a few days apart to plough adjacent lands.  The 'strip and plot' activities are often counter-productive and more costly than a unified, team effort to clear, plough, plant and harvest crops.  Sadly, such cooperation is often lacking, and the end result is a lower return on investment than would be achieved by working together for a common goal.  This same challenges are encountered in offices, where duplication of efforts occur through lack of collaboration and cooperation - and even in aspects related to National Development.  Team work, cooperation, collaboration and sharing of good practice has transformed agriculture and industry in other parts of the world - hopefully we will start to see more positive evidence of the same in the coming years as we fly over the wonderful landscapes of Ghana.  Photo courtesy of Medicine on the Move

Monday, May 20, 2013

May 20th, 2013

Fresh Air Matters... with Capt. Yaw

Over the past few years I have been able to take several young people on the their first international travel tour. I have learned a lot. Perhaps the distinct difference of my experiences to most peoples is that the young people I have travelled with, would not have normally had the resources or opportunities to travel had it not been for the projects I was involved in.

Normally, international travel from a developing nation is made possible for those from the higher reaches of society – generally those from the cities and well-paid jobs. Those with prior experience of eating in restaurants and visiting hotels. In my line of work, the empowerment of the rural dweller is key, and with it new challenges have become standard in the mission to travel internationally.

I will share with you some of the challenges experienced, and hope that some of you will gain a greater understanding of the issues involved – and embark on similar projects!

First of all there is the birth certificate. It appears that many of the young people in rural Ghana are not in possession of a birth certificate. The chances are that their very birth was never registered. Obtaining such a document takes time, effort and, of course, money. It is important that the birth certificate matches the name and date of birth that may occur on other documents already in the system, such as school certificates. Let us complicate the matter further by needing the details of parents, and at times Grandparents details get asked for! Many older people in Ghana seem to have several names, dates of birth, and documents with conflicting information – it seems that there age oscillates depending on the needs of the moment!. Getting a ‘clear and consistent’ set of information to complete a birth certificate for a young person is just the first step on the ladder. It will require several visits to the registrar’s office and of course several ‘administration fees’. Of course, it is not unusual to require some legal statements, especially in relation to parents’ names that do not match and an affidavit here and there! Clearly, each item needs ‘administration fees’ and takes transport to and from the city –with an accompanier to ensure that the right things are accomplished the first time.

Next our young person needs a passport. The birth certificate is needed as part of that application. Now, you are up against a bureaucratic system that appears, from how I perceive it, to be determined to place multiple obstacles along the path towards the issue of a passport. It is not as if you can just send off for one. No, you must pay for the forms from a bank, then take the filled in forms to the passport centre – on the specific day of the week, in a limited time frame, depending on where you are from, and which may well have such a long queue that you take several visits to finally get your passport interview. If you are unlucky you may have to pay ‘administration fees’ too. If they agree to issue you a passport you will need to return a few weeks later – again several times before you finally take possession of the required travel document. All of this takes time, effort, funds and wears the patience down.

Next, our intended to travel youngster will need an international yellow fever card to show on the way back into the country, and perhaps for their visa application too. Not as easy as you think! This is the experience we had for the last card issue:

  1. Go and get the injection at your local hospital. They will then take an ‘administration fee’ for the FREE jab.
  2. Travel to the regional capital to submit that you have had the injection and then pay an ‘administration fee’ for them to process the international traveller’s card.
  3. Return to collect the card a few days later… if it is ready.
 Next comes the visa application. Obtaining a visa is not the same as applying for a visa from a European country or from the USA to come to Ghana. Not at all. You will need to download some forms from the internet, prepare a dossier and undergo a visa interview, and make a payment. Here is the good part, the embassies are predominantly transparent in their payment system, and you will not normally be asked to pay unexpected, non-declared and published ‘administration fees’! You must, however, take with you your flight reservation (even though you may not get the visa) and have already paid for, and be in possession of your travel insurance (even though you may not get the visa). The visa fee, of course, is non-refundable, whether you get the visa or not. On average we spend around 20 hours of preparation per visa interview pack, and then need to travel at least three or four times to the city to complete the various formalities (photos, insurance, copies of documents, etc.). We have to seek letters of invitation from the countries to be visited, provide bank statements, copies of passports of accompanying team leaders, details of where we will stay and the reasons for every single day of the trip. If we are travelling to Europe and the visa application is successful it will be for the EXACT number of days of travel. This must normally be completed around 90 days before travel. If it is an application for the USA, we are advised to begin at least 100 days before travel, but the USA visa issued is for 5 years.

The interview process itself is harrowing, especially for somebody from a rural area who finds themselves in a different environment and with a different level of English to what they are accustomed to. The interviewee must go in alone, and must be fully able to respond to the questions asked. This takes some time to learn new words such as names of the towns to be visited; ‘Friedrichshafen’, ‘Frankfurt’; ‘Gunskirchen’ in Germany, ‘Aberystwyth’ in Wales or ‘Ashby-de-la-Zouch’ in England (yes, it is!). The interviewee must be fully conversant with the trip details and able to explain who all the different people listed in the itinerary are. This is a challenge; it requires a lot of ‘pre-interview’ preparation by the young person. Of course, it is easy to get towns confused – especially on a complicated trip to several locations. The young person will want to focus on the part that interests them most, such as a visit to museum, and that in itself can cause confusion and the subsequent refusal of a visa. Any unintentional statement that sounds like they want to remain in the country of visit can result in an immediate refusal of visa – even if it is just a conversational comment such as ‘I think it would be wonderful to live in your country’! It is not easy-oo, and nor should it be, since there have been many abuses in the past.

Our intrepid young person will need to travel back to the city to collect their passport, generally in person, to discover if they have been successful.

Next week, we will look at the trip itself!

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

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Photo of the week May 15th, 2013

As we fly from Europe to Africa, provided we get clear skies and a window seat, we get to see the climatic and terrain changes on the way home.  Here we see North Africa from over 30,000 feet up, the atmosphere visibly thickens, clouds gain vertical height,  the texture of the surface of our globe changes, the density of population decreases, the infrastructural challenges increase and the contrast strikes us deep into our hearts.  When we consider the massive differences between our climate and conditions with those of Europe and the USA, we need to be aware of our local needs, our local challenges and be prepared to approach development in a manner that addresses these specific conditions.  Just watch out the window for six hours on a flight across Northern and Western Africa and you will see that we have a very different set of challenges to those in the so called developed nations.  Photo courtesy of Patricia Mawuli, Principal, AvTech Academy


Monday, May 13, 2013

May 13th, 2013

Fresh Air Matters... with Capt. Yaw

Recently I was honoured to be a part of the team visiting Airbus in Hamburg, Germany, regarding their ‘Dual System’ Vocational Training Programme. Apart from being impressed by the enormity of the A380 in production (the rear passenger and tail cone areas with a massive carbon fibre pressure dome) and the A320/321 from fuselage to final assembly line, the site carried more impressive exposure than just aeroplanes.

Bicycles. Yes, bicycles. Lots of them. Everywhere. Company bikes! Each one with a company logo and a registration number, used to move between locations on the massive dockside and airfield site that is home to the A380/A320/A321 build and delivery centre. On the one hand you have the unlikely, magnificent yet ‘visually-conceptually-unable-to-fly’ Beluga aircraft, flying aircraft sections inside its cavernous belly, between Toulouse and Hamburg, hanging in the sky like a whale, beached upon the clouds; on the other hand, the people that make it happen are pedalling their way around the site on company bikes! Appropriate transport, meeting needs, being efficient and fitting into the bigger scheme of things. In fact the slogan everywhere is ‘A380 – see the bigger picture.’

Then there was the company ‘pool-car’ parking area. Apparently, made up entirely of Mercedes Benz automobiles. From the boxy A-class to the luxury limousine classes, and all the models in-between; the parking area for the cars must have covered a couple of acres - at least. When a car is needed, the employee makes a request and the most appropriate vehicle is designated to them. Not the one that goes with their status, but the one that goes with their need. I am only left presuming that there is a lack of ‘snob-status’ in the company and a unified, corporate belief in the overall purpose of their mission.

The young people showing us around were full of energy, enthusiasm and competence. They were apprentices, learning about aircraft engineering, with a guaranteed job if they completed their three and a half year course. They were surprised at the questions coming from the Ghanaian group. ‘How many rivets in that section?’; ‘How many kilometres of wire on that aircraft?’; ‘How much electrical cable is required on the A380?’; ‘How many people are there involved in building this aircraft?’; ‘How many aircraft do you deliver per day?’ and my favourite, ‘Who is responsible for the learning for the Apprentices?’

The answers were not always available, but the notable point is that Airbus has a full order book, and if you wanted one, you would be at the back of a NINE year order book! Yes, NINE years. With practically one aircraft per day being delivered, it is clear that the organisation is busy! 

Just as in our part of the world, they have a challenge with personnel. With around sixty thousand employees, and many thousands more employed in the annexed industries, they still have a constant, rolling, head-count of around one thousand apprentices! Planning for future growth, ensuring that they have suitable people available, guaranteeing the human collateral needed for sustainability.

We were shown an advertisement. A group of girls sitting in a coffee shop, chatting, laughing and smiling. One of them shows a picture on her mobile phone of an aircraft. The girls gather around. After a few seconds, the door opens and a man enters with what appears to be a number of shoe boxes. The girls go wild and rip open the boxes, eyes wide, smiles wider, squeals abounding in all directions. The boxes contain tools, safety equipment and work clothes… the girls are thrilled. Finally, the girls (who really are apprentices at Airbus) join hands as they walk the production line. Impressive. Very impressive.

The advert is part of an Airbus campaign to increase the intake of young women into aircraft engineering! 

In fact, the young apprentices that we spoke to were all full of the thrills of being in the industry. Whether in the mechanical build, electrical or other areas, they embraced their jobs, and the security that goes with it.

The young men informed us that ‘girls are tidier’ and ‘are less aggressive’. Interesting admissions from the well-built German men. Of course, the education system in Germany is part of the reason for the success of their programme.

 At the age of eleven students are streamed into three school strands. Stand 1 is aimed at completion of schooling by 16 years old, and entering the workplace. Strand 2 is aimed at completion by 18 and having options open. Strand 3 is aimed at those who would normally go through to university. It was interesting to see just how much practical working experience, such as apprenticeships, has a high value in Germany!

The Airbus programme takes students from all three schooling systems, from the age of sixteen to those in their early twenties. Each of them given the opportunity to reach their personal full-potential. One of the youngsters we spoke to had been working on a building site, and realised that he had more potential than his position allowed. In Airbus he has blossomed – from ‘brickie’ to aircraft engineer. (over 3,000 applicants apply annually for just a few hundred places!)

The young women who we spoke to had so much confidence, it rather took us aback. Then we realised that they had been enabled, in more ways than one, by their apprenticeships, they had been given the opportunity to do something that had probably never entered their minds before chancing across this option. 

I must admit that it reassured me that the programme here in Ghana for young women is on the right track, following the same reasoning as the Airbus programme, albeit on a smaller scale. Young women need to be given more opportunities in engineering and aviation – and it begins today.

The Ghanaian AvTech Academy team are currently recruiting for the August intake of Vocademic Aviation and Technology Apprentices. Admittedly, it is not Airbus, but it is the very same set of skills and personal realisation opportunity that is offered in by the European giant, right here on our doorstep. 

With 80% of the time spent on the ‘shop floor’ and 20% in ‘classroom and classroom like’ situations, the AvTech programme is designed for young women from the rural areas. It is targeted at those girls post JSS (16-19 years old) who have the potential, but have lacked opportunity.

For those interested in finding out more about the opportunities for young women to enter light aviation, engineering and the associated industries, and how the Vocademic Apprenticeships work, you can find out more at – you will be surprised at what is on offer here in Ghana.  

Perhaps in the near future we will see the support for such apprenticeships across the region, and when you do, please remember, you read about it here first!

Oh, and the answer to that question ‘Who is responsible for the learning for the Apprentices?’ - the answer was very clear;

‘As apprentices we must drive our own learning programme – we must take responsibility to learn and achieve – success lies in our own hands’.

I guess the slogan ‘A380 – see the bigger picture.’ has more meaning that we might at first perceive.

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

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Photo of the week May 8th, 2013

In 1952 Ghana sent its first student pilots to the Island of Juist, off the coast of Germany, to learn to fly. There they were taught by, amongst others, Hans Kolde (left). Last week Patricia Mawuli (right), a flying instructor at Kpong, flew to the island with two of her student pilots, and together were seeped in the history of Ghana's aviation heritage, whilst learning new skills. Patricia and Hans shared stories about the challenges of flight training as the 87 year old paused on his bicycle tour of the islands busy airfield. As he recounted his tales, the fond memories of training Ghanaians over 50 years ago were pristine, and surrounded by pride of being a part of the development of an aviation infrastructure, that today is growing sustainably. Last year George Manu from Ghana and Joerg Bohn from the island of Juist, flew a four seat aircraft from Juist to Ghana to celebrate the 50th anniversary of those very students. It was clear from the visit to Juist that every Ghanaian is an ambassador and those from our history did a great job in making the nation proud. Photo Courtesy of the AvTech Academy (providing Vocademic Apprenticeships in Aviation and Engineering for rural girls).

Monday, May 6, 2013

May 6th, 2013

Fresh Air Matters... with Capt. Yaw

Personally, I am not a great fan of international travel. It all starts with that seemingly interminable set of procedures that are the prelude to the main event. The pre-leaving home moments of ‘do I have my passport, ticket, etc?’; the hectic journey to the airport watching the clock; checking the passport and ticket details; the hassles of ‘trolley boys’; the ‘bouncers’ at the door to the departures area; the stress of leaving your home to visit somebody else’s.

Why is the queue for your airline longer than all the others. You stand in the queue - worrying… Will my bag be overweight? Will they let me take my laptop? Where did I put my passport? Such concerns are punctuated by observations: ‘Wow, does he really think that they will let him on with THAT amount of hand luggage?’; ‘What is SHE wearing for travelling?’; ‘Do they know how cold it will be at our destination?’; ‘What did SHE do to her hair?’ and ‘Awww, that poor child, he is so tired already, let him sleep.’

Before you realise, the ‘passport checker’ is asking you questions. ‘When will you return?’ to which the answer is ‘on the date my ticket says’, however, you cannot say that, since you are expected to remember everything. ‘Where will you stay?’ is demanded in the flattest of tones. The response to which is generally ‘none of your business!’, but you oblige with the details of a hotel. In the back of your mind you are thinking ‘what if I don’t like the hotel, or when I get there it is overbooked?’ Of course, most of our thoughts are prevented from reaching our mouths. Sadly, not all of them! Our occasional attempts at comedy fall onto the stony ground of the ‘passport checkers’ ears, who appear to be selected for their inherent lack of humour.

Finally, your are at the check in counter.

At last you find a smile. A pleasant discussion about your seat and then the precious ensemble is loaded onto an oversized supermarket conveyor belt. Silently benedictions to your beloved belongings are offered, as they clank and crash along the suitcase-highway towards the plane. You wonder quietly, ‘will I ever see you again?’

Immigration is waiting for you, and so you proceed to the next queue, hunting for a pen to fill out the card with even more details, wondering ‘why do I have to fill out my name and passport details when they are going to scan it all anyway? Where is the point in filling in flight details when it is already in the computer and they can see my boarding card?’ Many of the procedures we are subjected to appear to lack logic, and yet we all comply, unaware of why the man in immigration wants to know whether we are going for ‘business’ or ‘medical’ or ‘family’ or ‘conference’. You look at the form and wonder if you should tick just one or several, realising that your trip is a combination. Should you tick them all, just in case? Then you choose one, hoping that it might win some lottery, knowing that it won’t!

The immigration officer asks you for a picture with a ‘please look at the camera’ and he takes the first of your holiday snaps.

The checklist of things to do seems interminable. As you hear the announcement of your aircraft ‘boarding’, you wish that the queue for security checks were shorter. The lady in front of you looks you straight in the face and addresses you with ‘Alitalia?’, you want to respond with ‘No, my parents had more forethought than to name me after an airline’ but you respond instead with ‘Lufthansa’, assuming that this is some sort of ‘passenger game’ called ‘name your favourite airline’. She looks worried and starts scanning the hall for another security line. Finally, you realise that she is worried that she may be in the wrong queue, and you reassure her that ‘all airlines passengers go through security here’. Her lack of understanding makes you wish you had not said anything, but you smile, and use hand gestures to indicate ‘remain-in-queue’.

As you get closer to the ‘search and scan team’ you realise that you have to take off your shoes, remove your belt, get your computer out of its bag, take your coins out of your pockets and also remove your glasses. The queue that had been moving so slowly speeds up as you prepare. You pull your belt off so quickly that you whip the arm of the person next to you, and as you bend down to take off your shoes you hope to contain the sudden desire to pass wind. Your glasses fall to the floor, but before you can pick them up, ‘you are next’. You load the trays, tying not to forget anything before going through the scanner. BEEEEEEP… you forgot the coins in your pocket. Embarrassed, you return and drop a few coins in a tray and try again. Silence. Smiling, you step forward, only to be patted down by the next man without a smile. As he taps your chest, you wonder if he is trained not to smile, or if it comes naturally. He touches a spot that tickles and you must not flinch, you try not to allow your humour out, for you know that humour is not appropriate. You do not always succeed, and your quip gets you in trouble… again.

As they call the flights ‘final call’, you struggle to get your shoes on, and realise your trousers are falling down. You try to rethread your belt, but it is not in a complying mood. As you try to take a step forwards you realise that your foot is trapped. You cannot move! The realisation of ‘I need to tie my shoelaces and not to stand on them’ hits you, and you bend down, too quickly. That gaseous tummy has found its moment of relief and trumpets its release.

Time is running and you must catch that plane. The very thought of ‘catching the plane’ seems silly, for you cannot put it in a net or a cage – the plane is not able to be ‘caught’ in a trap – in fact, you are about to be ‘caught inside the plane’!

Pulling your hand baggage along, you double and triple check you have your documents, and wonder if you put that computer back in the bag. You did, didn’t you?

Finally, the bus ride across the apron, and the long climb up the stairs in the night heat. The seeking of the seat, the packing of the overhead lockers, the tightening of the seatbelt, and then…

‘I am too worn out BEFORE I start this trip. Why do I travel?’ It seems that the wonder and magnificence of international travel has lost its attraction and glamour, it has become a ‘battle’, one that seems to take more and more energy every time we head out to that place called the Airport.

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

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Photo of the week May 1, 2013

Meet Lydia Wetsi, Ghana's only student pilot with a disability, shown here flying a Zenith CH701 aircraft at Kpong in the Eastern Region. Lydia suffered from an arm contracture after inappropriate health care from a simple wound, as a child. Today, she is learning to fly and build aircraft at the AvTech Academy. Lydia is an inspiration to many at home and abroad. Last week she spoke boldly in forums at AERO Friedrichshafen, in Germany. Disabled pilots are common in Europe and the USA where access to the magnificent liberty of flight is used as a therapy and a release - including for people in wheelchairs and those with amputations. Lydia's journey is the topic of new Red Bull media documentary 'Spirit of Africa' being released this month. Lydia's ambition is to use her flying to inspire and encourage others, and to be able to reach the rural communities where she hopes to provide positive health education to prevent others suffering the same challenges as she has. Photo courtesy of Medicine on the Move