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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Spending Time with Techiman's Aviation Club

Submitted by Erin Nolan
The next two days were spent with the aviation club at the Ayi-Owen school in Techiman. They gave us such a warm welcome and it was special to see they already established an aviation club. The club meets as a group ranging in age from 9-13 and they have taken on the responsibility of helping keep the airfield clean and safe for future operations. We got started right away and asked the class about the four forces of flight. Hands were raised immediately and each child that was called on gave the correct answer. Wow! I was so impressed by the excitement and knowledge of this group of kids.

Jonathan’s next lesson was on the four stages of the combustion engine. Once again I am wondering how he will get these difficult theories across to the group. But I should know better by this point because in minutes they were hanging on every word. He described Intake-Compression-Combustion-and Exhaust. The AV-Tech Academy girls and Jonathan had the entire group Breathing In-Squeezing-Exploding- then Breathing Out! 

The smiles on all their faces were priceless. I will never forget the energy and special feeling of being a part of the activities in the class room that day. The next demonstration described the different parts in an engine including the cylinders and the pistons and the sequence of cylinder operation.

The discussion starts with a brief description of the principle followed by active participation. Active learning seems to really sink in to these kids because not only are they learning they are having fun! 

Ask yourself how many times have you seen smiles and laughter like that in a classroom anywhere in the world?  Girls make excellent propellers don’t they? I wish my education included these types of demonstrations because it really sinks in without trying too hard.

I have to admit this is tough to write about because I think the pictures say it all.

This was a tough act to follow but Patricia and I were up next. I introduced myself and did my best in explaining how helicopters fly and how we use aviation in law enforcement while Patricia intrigued them with her story of being born, raised, and trained in Ghana. I believe it truly means more to them to hear Patricia’s story because they can see themselves in her. She gives them hope of achieving their dreams and makes it real for all of them!

The next day’s session we took all the students outside for a demonstration on Air Traffic Control. The relationship between pilots and air traffic controllers was discussed then demonstrated by blindfolding the student pilot and having them trust instructions given by a friend to keep them safe from crashing into each other or obstacles.  

I can’t say it enough, this type of teaching in extraordinary!  We were all having a great time together.

The visit wasn’t over yet our next stop was a meeting with the local tribal Chiefs who have rights to the land where the airfield is located in Techiman. We went to discuss options for use and proper maintenance of the field to ensure safe future operations. They expressed interest in supporting new ideas and want to do what they can to encourage the growth of aviation in their area. They made sure to tell us how proud they are of Juliet who is one of their own and who is working hard in the AV-Tech academy to possibly return as their very own local pilot!(I am so proud of you too!!!)

 I had the pleasure to meet Juliet’s parents while in Techiman. Her mother and sister work in the local market and her father is a farmer. He graciously brought us some of his prized crops to taste and his face was beaming with pride for his daughter. I made sure to express my good thoughts and praised Juliet for all her hard work as well.
Our final stop was a visit to the monkey sanctuary. I wasn’t sure what to expect but once we arrived our guide jumped in our car and took us to the entrance point. We began to walk down a path in the forest when he said we should get some bananas and nuts to feed the monkeys. Once we had the food the monkeys came out from everywhere. They would get right up close and eat from our hands. Each part of the forest had another family and at each stop they came right to all of us. What a treat to be so close to these creatures. I was amazed by their lack of fear and trust of us. It turns out these monkeys are a real part of the history and are both protected and respected by the local community.

This was another event that brought huge smiles to all of us.  It is an amazing feeling to share these first time experiences together.

When the tour was finished we came across some kids in the surrounding community giving me another reminder of all the people who could be reached with aviation. Aviation could provide the influx of educators, health professionals and economic development in all regions of the country.

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