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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mission Accomplished

Submitted By Jonathan Porter
We are pleased to report that MoM's first Humanitarian Aviation Mission has been accomplished. Not only that, but history has been made.

At 11:00 on Thursday 17th June 2010, 9G-ZAD beached at Battorkope, in the Eastern Region of Ghana, carrying gifts for the school children and to arrange further flights of medical education volunteers.
Capt.Yaw, Chief Pilot and Rosina Matey, Safety and Community Relations Officer, left Kpong Airfield at 10:30 after being dispatched by Mary Adjei Bram, Patricia Mawuli and Ann Amponsah.

The aircraft climbed slowly to 2,500', weighted down by floats, we flew over mountains and valleys and the aerial views were beautiful. In under 20mins we were ready to descend over the village where there awaited a large crowd.

Once a suitable landing area had been identified from the air, a first pass was made, looking for debris and trees in the lake. On the second pass a motorized canoe cut across the landing area and a go around was initiated. This is all part of the safety procedures for this type of mission.

On landing, or rather splashing-down, the water taxi was challenging due to undercurrents, floating debris and tree stumps sticking out of the lake. Nonetheless, careful use of power, drift and water rudder allowed for a safe beaching in front of the waiting crowd which grew suddenly to around 800 rural community folk.

The crowd was jubilant as they waited to welcome us - the young, the old, men and women, boys and girls, all impatiently standing at the river bank for the first landing of an amphibian aircraft at heir village. History in the making!

After shutting down the engine and removing shoes and socks, Rosina and Capt, Yaw threw ropes to the crowd to be tied to 'stick' quay posts on the bank where the impromptu gathering had occurred.

With the community Health volunteer and Rosina acting as animators and interpretors for Capt. Yaw, the gathered mass of enthusiastic faces were eager to learn the names of the four forces of flight, aircraft part names and how the airplane flies.

Later the elders had a small meeting with the MoM crew and expressed a great desire for further flights, as well as promising to work to increase safety on the site.

Capt. Yaw looked at progress on the land area for future use and informed them about the necessary finishing touches to the cleared area by removing stones, termite mounds and tree stumps as well as encouraging that cattle should not be grazed on the new area.

When presented with the gifts, including pencils, erasers and coloring books courtesy of Liebherr, the whole community expressed their heartfelt thanks and expressed that they were happy that Battorkope was becoming famous!

The people of Battorkope are predominantly farmers and fishermen and they speak Ewe and Krobo. Grateful for this first visit, they assured MoM and its supporters that they will do all that they can to enable flights to reach them safely.

The whole crowd waved as one as we got wet pushing back on the water! Then, after one aborted take-off, a better run area was identified and the return flight completed in 25 minutes - compared to well over three hours by road - or much more after a heavy rain!

This report is jointly prepared by Rosina Matey with Capt. Yaw - who are both thrilled to have made history for MoM, for Battorkope and for Ghana - for this is the first time a Ghana registered amphibian aircraft has been approved for operations in over four decades - and the plane was built and engineered in Ghana, by Ghanaians, assisted by Capt. Yaw. Thanks go to WAASPS for their support as well as to the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority and Ghana Maritime Authority for their approvals.

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