“When in Oshkosh”
When in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, during EAA’s AirVenture, you are sure to meet some incredible people! For one week, you are surrounded by five hundred thousand new best friends from around the globe at aviations’ greatest celebration, EAA AirVenture. For one week, you become family. You have the option to participate in workshops and seminars. You can bump into your favorite pilots and rub shoulders with the best! Or you can meet people in aviation who are a legend in their own right and never even know it. For me, that person was 25 year old, Patricia Mawuli.
I first saw Patricia while standing in line to play my small part in building EAA’s “One Week Wonder.” I had no clue who she was and unfortunately didn’t find out until after the event. Patrcia came all the way from Ghana to help take a Zenith CH 750 from kit to finished aircraft in just seven days during AirVenture, 2014. After much research and a few conversations via Facebook with her, I was able to learn what a truly outstanding individual she is!
Born in Mepe, a small village loacted northeast of Ghana’s capital city of Accra, Patricia didn’t live a fairytale life. Neglected by her parents, she was raised by her grandmother and her English teacher. She lived in a mud shack in Ghana’s bush territory. When Patricia was 19 years of age, she saw her an airplane for the first time. Out of nothing more than idle curiosity, she decided to follow it. She walked through a large field to find Ghana’s Kpong Airfield, the busiest private airport in West Africa. She immediately asked for a job.
She was rejected. The didn’t hire females. Upon further insistance, begging for “just one chance,” they handed her a machete. Her first “job” was to clear the tree stumps along the highway. She didn’t argue and she didn’t complain. In fact, she cleared those tree stumps better than any other worker they employed! “She used her head,” says Jonathan Porter, director of the airfield. “She thought about what she was doing and how she was going to do it and she took out those stumps better than the men!” He gave her a job. She learned quckly to assemble aircraft in the workshop. So impressed with her work, the then offered her a scholarship to study aviation and taught her to fly!
Yes, there I was… standing next to greatness! One of Ghana’s youngest and first female pilot! She also the first woman in Ghana certified to build and maintain rotax engines. Patricia has been offered jobs around the world, earning up to 30 times her current pay. She refuses to leave. Her goal is to help other women become pilots through her and Porter’s school, “AVTech” which was opened to train young women pilots in rural Ghana.
Next time you are in Oshkosh, pay attention to those who you stand next to. Everyone has their own story. You just might meet a legend.