In 2007, Patricia Mawuli Nyekodzi went to seek for a job at the Kpong Airfield in Eastern Region of Ghana and little did she know that she will be the country’s first female civilian pilot in 2009 and West Africa’s first woman certified to build and maintain Rotax aircraft engines.
The 31-year-old aircraft mechanic and only female flight instructor in West Africa has broken gender barriers by rising from clearing tree trunks for free to becoming the director of an academy called AV-Tech that provided young Ghanaian girls with the skills, training and inspiration to become pilots.
Patricia Mawuli-Porter achieved this feat through persistence and determination when she knocked on the doors of the technical director of the Kpong Airfield, Jonathan Porter – who later became her husband – who taught her all that she knows about aviation.
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“I said: ‘I will do whatever it takes, I’ll work hard, you don’t have to pay me.’ They told me: ‘Don’t worry. You are so different. You’ve got energy, you have potential. We will do whatever it takes.’ This is when my whole flying career just started to boom,” Mawuli told CNN in an interview.
She taught girls and young people in Ghana and in the United States how to build aircrafts. She was invited to the Experimental Aircraft Association AirVenture fly-in in Oshkosh, Wisconsin twice and on one occasion, she helped the young team of young Americans with no prior aircraft building experience to assemble a Zenith CH750 aircraft in a record one week.
“There are a lot of young people (who), when they see me, (are given) hope. It motivates them to learn harder because they believe women actually have something ahead of them,” she said.
Mawuli-Porter is the co-founder of now-defunct Medicine On The Move, (MoM), a local NGO that worked together with the Aviation Academy to transport doctors, deliver medical supplies and services, as well as health education to rural communities across the length and breadth of Ghana.