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Friday, August 31, 2012

How hungry are your termites????

As we enter the minor dry season the airfield turns from green to brown, and this year we have lost all of our markers boards to termites, making the runway identification and manoeuvring areas definition less easy to make out.

We used to paint the runway marks - but at $400 per month in paint, we soon stopped that. We tried simple boards, but they lasted only a matter of months. Then we worked on a board with lots of treatments and plastic wraps on areas in contact with the ground - and they lasted a little more than a year, despite some expesive paints and a complex frangible mechanism...

Therefore, in an effort to improve marking visibility and as part of a long term cost-saving exercise, as well as an increase in safety, we have worked on a system of marker boards, moulded in fibreglass with an integrated resin coated wooden base (termites dont eat resin!). They are made ready to be adapted as runway lights should we one day be allowed to fly night VFR!

Here we see Bernard, Mr Solo, Newton, Lydia, Freda (one of the new intake, and Patricia), all pleased with the outputs. The prototypes installed at threshold 19 for a few weeks now, have added a great deal to our approach clarity and improved taxi precision. The next plan is to intstall one every 100m/330' along the runway... We hope to see these installed at other bush strips around the country in the coming years, based on our experiences.

At a materials cost of around $60 per board, excluding moulds, labour and R&D costs, we hope to sell them to interested parties at $100 each or $1000 for a set of 12, the amount needed for a 500m runway (1800'). We realise that, as an item they are not cheap, but as an investment they are vital. Safety is important, and the cost of replacing wooden ones each year is well beyond a joke, we will see a ROI (return on investment) of less than 3 years compared to the old system - and with it an improved solution for a safer flying environment.

We would like to see these markers in place at Kete Krachi and Techiman in the coming months. Should they purchase, it will create work for the girls at the airfield, increase skills and be a win-win all around. If you would like to sponsor marker boards for Kete Krachi or Techiman, please let us know!

Once they are painted (2 part epoxy paint) and installed on the runway we will post a fresh image to tickle your imagination as to when you will fly into Kpong Airfield!!

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