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Friday, January 14, 2011

Harmattan and Hangar Flying

Submitted by Jonathan Porter
Harmattan is the name of a wind that blows off of the Sahara desert, carrying with it sand particles so fine that they can clog your nose and every filter known to man!  When this sand fills the air, we refer to it as Harmattan weather or, more commonly, simply Harmattan.

Harmattan bites us hard this January. The dust gets into every nook and cranny and leaves its distinctive, unpleasant, taste on our lips, and visibility hampered.   Therefore, our aircraft have sat in their hangars, waiting for visibility to increase sufficiently for safe flight operations.

(image below is of Wa during light Harmattan - see the buildings beyond the runway?)

In Europe and North America the snow and fog has had a similar effect, not only on the light aircraft operations, but also on the heavier metal, with delays and cancellations galore.

In aviation terms, this weather is known as ‘Hangar Flying’ weather. Weather where you talk about flying, because the visibility is too low to actually fly. Aviation related topics, become the stock and trade of the hangar flyer. Imagine a group of grounded pilots sitting on old tyres at the edge of a hangar, looking at the gloomy Harmattan/snow/fog and talking, incessantly, about a) what they have done, b) what others have done, c) what they want to do and d) what they are going to do. 

Most of what they claim to have done will be exaggerated; their stories of others’ achievements will be embellished, their depiction of what they want to do based on making a good impression, and their declarations of what they are actually going to do more smoke and mirrors than substance.  But they enjoy their time, chatting and dreaming – and nobody can take that away from them.  The majority of dreams will never make it to a vision, because of distractions from declared intentions. 

I remember days like this in Europe nearly twenty years ago.  We would all sit and dream of going to Africa, starting flying doctors and humanitarian aviation programmes; an affordable flying school for young Africans, and an engineering base of repute.  Today, out of the many that I sat with and shared those dreams, I am the only one from the group who actually kept to the hangar flying dream - turning it into a vision and something that is making history.  I assure you that the challenge of bringing such dreams to reality is harder than ever considered whilst sitting in a hangar, during fog in Europe!  I can also assure you that the rewards are far greater – not in financial terms, but in personal satisfaction – the greatest reward of all.

No matter where you are in the world, you can always witness a similar type of event to Hangar Flying … it is called discussion group, talk-shop, oops, I mean workshop, parliament, council or the senate or something similar.  In such places, you get a lot of people who are put into a room, unable to do anything that day but sit and talk.  Their visibility is often shrouded by fog and Harmattan of administrative natures, and their direction diverted by the oft forgotten fact that they must answer one day for their inactions.  They sit there, pontificating, procrastinating, propositioning, arguing and, often, complaining.  Talking incessantly about:-  a) what they have done, b) what others have done, c) what they want to do and d) what they are going to do!

I leave it up to your experience and judgement in your field as to what the chances are that most of what they claim to have done will be exaggerated, their stories of others’ achievements will be embellished, their depiction of what they want to do based on making a good impression and their declarations of what they are actually going to do more smoke and mirrors than substance! 

Of course, at times, intentions of some are well meaning, but the lack of cooperation and perseverance from others will fail them – there is, of course, also the matter of cash – yet it is mainly the lack of human endeavour, effort and desire to see a project through/support it that results in the failure of projects to see the light of day!  Those without abundant cash are often more dedicated and creative, and know the value of ‘sweat capital’, the missing resource for success in so, so many projects.

You will read in the coming blogs, about how we are actively preparing to take aviation inspiration on a road-show (since the visibility is too low to fly), as we set out on a total of six half-day events over a ten day period (travel time will be long and the roads rough) in the Northern and Brong Ahafo regions, and flying one hundred children from the villages, once again making sure that our Hangar Flying dreams make it to reality. 

It is wonderful that this year we are being joined by two other 'Hangar Flyers who make it come true'.  We are being joined for a about five weeks each, by the well know Pilot Erin Nolan, from the NYPD and Aerobatic tumbler Melissa Pemberton (http://sportsgal.com/) at different points during our forthcoming activities, and Rex Pemberton (http://rexpemberton.com/) the well-known climber and 'jump out of aeroplanes man' plans to make an appearance for a few weeks as well!!

These coming events are about educating and inspiring young people.  Inspiration is a great gift, and it is too often inspired by ‘golden headlines’, only to be turned sour by the lack of dedication and effort to make it come true; by the ‘failure by omission of effort’ of a few that leads to individuals, and whole communities, feeling let down and disappointed. 

So, if you are Hangar Flying at work today, in the office, in a conference centre or in some more prestigious edifice of a building, make sure that you live up to the dreams that you are meant to turn into visions, and on into realities, for this world needs them now, not at some far off point shrouded, dulled and hidden by the Fog/Snow/Harmattan of excuses.

OF course, if your hangar dream has been or is the same as ours, you can always come out and make it happen, of if that is not possible, why not make a donation today, so that we can do even more, even when we cannot fly - we can still inspire - and we really do ' Change live, one flight at a time'... with your help!

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