News / Africa

Ghana’s Female Pilots Are Ready for Takeoff

Ghana's first licensed female pilot is working to train more women to fly and maintain light aircraft. (File: Mary Saner/VOA)Ghana's first licensed female pilot is working to train more women to fly and maintain light aircraft. (File: Mary Saner/VOA)
x
Ghana's first licensed female pilot is working to train more women to fly and maintain light aircraft. (File: Mary Saner/VOA)
Ghana's first licensed female pilot is working to train more women to fly and maintain light aircraft. (File: Mary Saner/VOA)
Ricci Shryock
Patricia Mawuli was nineteen years old and had just finished high school when she saw an airplane for the first time.

As she was collecting wood in a field outside of her uncle’s house in a rural area of Ghana, Mawuli heard loud noises that she said scared her at first.

“I saw these airplanes flying overhead, but because I was very close to the airfields, I thought the airplanes were chasing me,” she recalled years later.

But Mawuli said her fear did not last long. Before long, she started “to chase them -- to see what they were up to.”

I told them I could prove them wrong, because women can do things, and even do it much better than men sometimes.”

She followed the airplanes to find out where they were landing.  And once she arrived, she asked what she could do to work near the planes.

They told her she could clear wood from the area. She gladly accepted – but all along her sights were set higher.

“They didn’t have any plans for training girls,” she said.  “Well I told them I could prove them wrong, because women can do things and even do it much better than men sometimes.”

Eventually, Jonathan Porter, an engineer and pilot at the airfield, trained and taught Mawuli to fly. Two years ago, on her 21st birthday, she became the country’s first licensed woman pilot – and that only marked the beginning of her journey.

Mawuli then helped found the AvTech Academy, short for the Aviation and Technology Academy Ghana, which trains young women how to fly, build and maintain light aircraft.

People forget,” she said “it’s only two percent of the world’s aircraft that are airliners,” she said. “The rest of the 98 percent are private planes and ultralights.” That means, Mawuli explained, there are real opportunities in the aviation industry for the young women taught at AvTech.

This is the academy’s second year, and there are three students. Four women are enrolled for next fall, added Mawuli. The school focuses on training young women from rural areas, who might not otherwise have the opportunity for advanced schooling. Mawuli puts most of her own salary from piloting and engineering back into the academy.

She said she wants to see young women pushed to achieve their potential. “I told myself, well if I have done this, there are many more women out there,” who might want to do the same. “And yet how many don’t have enough money to send them to continue their education.”

She said working at the academy has been a privilege. “In the world these days, not many girls go into engineering. And to be able to see these young and enthusiastic ladies, who are looking to learn more about engines, it’s a bit more encouraging – there’s hope for the future.”

Ghana pilot Patricia Mawuli discusses her path to flight.
Ghana pilot Patricia Mawuli discusses her path to flight.i
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Didyay from: Sweden
June 12, 2012 12:18 PM
Brilliant Pat Mawuli, all the best. Thank you for the comment Capt. Yaw.

by: Bruce Nishimwe from: San Diego
June 05, 2012 5:29 PM
This is awesome, more girls in Africa should come out and learn how to fly. I am my self a pilot and flight instructor here in USA, I intend to use Aviation as way to inspire the next generation of Africa to achieve their goal. We need to support the AvTech Academy . I need to get in touch in AVTech Academy.
Congratulations.

by: Richard Asmah from: usa
May 16, 2012 5:35 PM
This is awesome, I was overwhelmed with suprise when I read the article. She would have to take this to a higher level, train more kids and build more airplanes for farming and transporting patients from villages to hospitals in nearby cities.

This is amazing, the government of Ghana need to support this lady and her academy so that Ghana can have more emergency aiplanes and also for domestic commercial flights to ease traffic congestion on the roads of Ghana.

Good job Pat and CONGRATULATION.

by: Capt. Yaw from: Ghana
May 15, 2012 1:52 AM
A great article on some wonderful girls and women!

Just a tiny correction or two to the text... Patricia is the first woman to gain the National Pilots licence in Ghana (as per the audio). Also, to clarify, since this is an American 'Term' site, the term Ultralight means something different in the USA to Ghana. In Ghana these are called UL (Ultralight), however, in USA terms these girls are building and flying LSA (Light Sport) aircraft.

To clarify, 2% of the worlds aircraft are airliners, the majority of the rest are smaller aircraft and what is called General Aviation.

These girls are amazing - Patricia is an amazing pilot and instructor, engineer, mentor and role model to many many girls. I am privileged to know them and work with them. You can see their pictures and activities at
http://www.medicineonthemove.org
http://medicineonthemove.blogspot.com
http://avtechacademy.blogspot.com
http://www.waasps.com

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More