AirNewsTimes Uk About US Contact

Hitler's pilot helped Ghana's women to fly

Hitler's pilot helped Ghana's women to fly

Unlikely friendship with Hanna Reisch led to pioneering academy that helps young women reach for the sky

» Aviation - W | Monday, April 16, 2012 • The Guardian
It is the strange story of Hitler's private pilot, a wandering English engineer and the first black woman – or woman of any race for that matter – to be qualified in building light planes.

In an inconspicuous clearing 30 miles east of Ghana's capital, Accra, a group of young women aged 16-20 are sliding shut the heavy metal doors of an airport hangar. They are students at AvTech, the Aviation and Technology Academy Ghana, a school with the unusual aim of bringing light aviation to impoverished rural Ghana.

"What people haven't realised is the use of aviation in developing nations," says chief flying instructor Jonathan Porter, or Captain Yaw as local children call him, using a typical Ghanaian name.

Porter is an English engineer who brought his own light aircraft to Ghana in a shipping container, together with his household belongings.

"Flying has always been seen as the domain of Americans and Europeans, but I saw clearly the need for light aviation which didn't focus on expats," he says. "People just don't realise what aeroplanes can do affordably."

The potential for light aircraft to play a role in development has long been recognised in Ghana. In 1962 independence leader Kwame Nkrumah founded sub-Saharan Africa's first flying school, after he formed an unlikely friendship with Hanna Reitsch, Hitler's private pilot and a record-breaking aviation hero of wartime Nazi propaganda.

After the war Reitsch, who refused to renounce Hitler and was poorly received in postwar Germany, lived in Ghana, where she helped encourage a generation of Ghanaians to embrace aviation.

"Nkrumah was smart – he realised that the best way to get from A to B in a country with poor infrastructure was to fly," says Porter.

"And there are so many other uses for these aircraft. We can teach rural people a new skill, we can change the way they think. And for the young women we are training as engineers and pilots, there is a viable career for them in agriculture, aerial surveillance of crops, selecting irrigation routes and plantation work."

The use of light aviation in development and disaster relief is well established, with organisations such as Mission Aviation Fellowship, a Christian aid group, and the Emergency Volunteer Air Corps (Evac) using planes to reach isolated areas after natural disasters.

But AvTech says it wants to move away from flying foreign aid workers in, and instead train local girls and women to become specialists.

WAASPS, the social enterprise wing of the project, capitalises on the demand for flying among Ghana's growing pool of high net-worth individuals by building the $80,000 (£50,000) planes to order, and by giving private flying lessons to business people and oil executives at weekends. The company uses the profits to subsidise training for the AvTech students – poor girls from local villages – during the week.

AvTech is run by Mawuli, a fisherman's daughter who implored Porter to train her after she saw his plane fly overhead while cutting trees in the bush.

"I consider aviation to have a key role to play in a developing nation like Ghana," she says. "I started out cutting trees from the runway with a machete, and today I can tell people I'm a pilot and an aeroplane engineer. That is spectacular, it is exceptional.

"And it is a gateway for other young women who also want to be adventurous and do something different."

Mawuli says she is the only African woman qualified in building Rotax engines, a popular Austrian brand of light aircraft engine, which she and Porter import and distribute in West Africa.

But in a country where Mawuli remains one of very few female pilots, her profession prompts some bemused reactions.

"In our culture women are not seen as people who are adventurous or risk-takers," she says. "Even now there are people who don't believe I fly planes. When they see me flying they think that there is some remote control that is flying the aircraft.

"But I know that if we train these girls today, tomorrow they will become the leaders of aviation, taking the planes to the people who need them, dropping educational materials for people who are isolated and can't be reached by road, or dropping food to victims in a disaster.

"Not many people here understand this mentality – I consider myself the person who has to start it."

The Guardian
Warning: Comments which include insulting, offensive sentences or hints, assault and comments with the unwritten rules of spellingand written in English characters incorrectly will not be approved.
Login to make a comment with your user name
Yorumunuzu Sendin
Tüm Yorumları Okumak İçin tıklayın

More News

CanJet Airlines Suspends Operations
Wednesday, September 2, 2015    
Delta Adds Service from Seattle to Edmonton
Wednesday, September 2, 2015    
Aeroflot to Take Control of Transaero
Tuesday, September 1, 2015    
Big Words from the Smaller Players: IAFS Day 1 Roundup
Tuesday, September 1, 2015    
Japan Airlines to Return to Dallas/Fort Worth
Monday, August 31, 2015    
Is Porter Airlines Coming to Florida?
Monday, August 31, 2015    
Tony Tyler to Step Down as IATA CEO in June 2016
Friday, August 28, 2015    
Boeing Completes 777-9 Firm Configuration
Thursday, August 27, 2015    
Rouble Trouble: Transaero Defers VLJ Deliveries
Thursday, August 27, 2015    
The Emirates Premium Experience - Part II
Wednesday, August 26, 2015    
Last US Airways Flight will End in Philadelphia
Wednesday, August 26, 2015    
Delta Adds Service from Seattle to Edmonton
Delta Adds Service from Seattle to Edmonton
Delta sums a daily service to Edmonton from Seattle starting on December 19
American Airlines Will Allow Recent 'Mistake Fares' to Fly
American Airlines Will Allow Recent 'Mistake Fares' to Fly
American Airlines inadvertently featured several 'mistake fares,' discounti
British Airways to Launch Service to San Jose, California
British Airways to Launch Service to San Jose, California
British Airways has announced a new service from London to San Jose, Califo
Analysis: Airfares Slip 5.6% in July
Analysis: Airfares Slip 5.6% in July
Airfares dove 5.6% from June to July, resulting primarily from pricing pres
SAS to Expand with New US Destinations
SAS to Expand with New US Destinations
SAS has announced new service to Los Angeles and Miami in 2016, joining oth
What's next for PAWA Dominicana?
What's next for PAWA Dominicana?
PAWA has resumed operations after a three-year hiatus. Will its business mo
Inside Lufthansa's Massive Frankfurt A380 Hangar
Inside Lufthansa's Massive Frankfurt A380 Hangar
Everything about the Airbus A380 is massive, including its maintenance prem
  • Kara Kutu

  • Çok Okunan

  • Yorumlanan

AirNews'i Delicious'ta PaylaşınAirNews'i Stumbleupon'da Paylaşın!AirNews'i Twitter'da Takip Edin!AirNews Facebook Sayfasını Ziyaret EdinAirNews RSS
UK News | World | Aviation | Airlines | Airports | Business | Space | Technology | Tourism | Photos | Videos

This Site All Rights Reserved. Not be quoted without permission.

Copyright © 2008 - 2011 airnewstimes.co.uk

Design / Software: Air News Times