As we continue to assess our operations, we have to consider our location.
Well, we spent a long time choosing the location, and the reasons continue to be valid, and some have actually vindicated themselves repeatedly.
i) Ghana itself is a remarkable example of African potential-to-be. Political, economic and social stability, on the Prime Meridian, english speaking, world respected and incredibly friendly. If you want to start an operation like this in West Africa, Ghana really is the ideal location, was and is.
ii) Kpong. Kpong is 50km north of Tema and 80km by road from Accra with it's international airport. That has not changed as a logistical hot spot. relatively easy access, but not in the city. Outside of the TTWZ (Travel to Work Zone) and also outside of the tax laden Greater Accra. Just into the Eastern region has logisital advantages. Kpong is also well clear of danger areas, restricted areas and the approach path to Kotoka International Airport. The actual airfield site borders government lands for the University of Legon Agric unit, and runs practically up to the river Volta/Kpong Head Pond for the Kpong Dam. Just 1km from the tarmac road to Tema/Akosombo, 8km from the Akapim-Togo range, 3km from Krobo Mt, 4km from Yogaga Mt and 18km from Osuduko Mt. Easy to locate, clear airspace - readily accessible and easy to navigate to even if you lose your GPS, map and compass! (proved that!).
iii) Climate. We also knew we were located in a micro-climatic advantageous location for aviation. We have seen many storms circumnavigate us and see rain fall south of Krobo/North of Yogaga/East of Osuduku/West of the ridge. Not only is the airfield surrounded by a pseudo orographic force field, we are actually ideally located in the Dahomey gap. This is a climatic phenomena in West Africa. It should be rain forest, but is actually coastal savannah. Incredibly special - once you learn to appreciate it! Often we see storms pass over us and only become violent on the other side of the ridge - where the rain forest starts. Fascinating and essentially a massive safety margin for teaching, training and operating an aviaiton operation in West Africa. Add to that, 50km inland we avoid the coastal weather from the Gulf of Guinea / Bight of Benin. Almost like a special place designed just for us! Interestingly, the British identified Kpong as a potential site for an airfield in the 1920's! They did not create one - but we did!
iv) proximity to need. From the airfield we can strike the vast majority of the lake in under 2 hours with a 2 seat aircraft. With the 4 seat, we can strike the whole lake in less than 2 hours. The lake has become our focus, mainly because of the very obvious needs in terms of health education and infra-structurally isolated communities. Due to the delays in approvals for land-based operations, and the massive need around the lake, we are moving our focus towards effective use of seaplanes and aerial supply drops. The possible addition of a boat with an amphibian dock - perhaps the first private 'inland water aircraft carrier' is proving very exciting. The main port for the lake is Akosombo, 30km north of Kpong - an easy ride on good tarred roads. We are also close to the highest HIV population in Ghana. Our presence, coupled with our 'girl-centric' training programmes is positively impacting on female assertiveness in the community. Girls see our girls succeeding and realise that they can do more than they thought about - aspiration, inspiration and the resultant ambition are key weapons in the battle against HIV/AIDS - reasons NOT to engage in dangerous activities - realisation that girls can have a bright future... we cannot assess that impact, but it is clearly present.
So, when we look out the window, walk across the apron or take a circuit before sunset, we are regularly reminded that we are located in a strategic position, unique and ideal. Despite many scouting trips for other locations for expansion, we always come back to Kpong Field, its location, orientation and uniqueness make it the centre of operations extra-ordinaire!
If you have not visited Kpong Airifeld, perhaps you should, we would love your thoughts too!