Women with wings: Female pilots making history

Every week, Inside Africa takes its viewers on a journey across Africa, exploring the true diversity and depth of different cultures, countries and regions.

Story highlights

Patricia Mawuli is Ghana's first female civilian pilot

She is also the first woman in West Africa certified to build and maintain Rotax engines

Mawuli grew up in a mud shack in the bush, and was denied a position when she first applied

She now also teaches flying to young girls in Ghana

Asuogyaman, Ghana CNN  — 

Patricia Mawuli grew up in a mud shack in Ghana’s bush country. As a young girl, she would wistfully watch the planes pass overhead, wishing one day to fly one herself.

In 2007, at the age of 21, she decided to break into the boy’s club that is Ghana’s flight industry. She walked to Kpong Airfield and asked for job.

“I (told) her no, we don’t employ women,” recalls Jonathan Porter, the airfield’s technical director.

“The whole concept of employing women in an environment where you’re clearing trees and building airplanes didn’t seem to me, in my experience, to fit in with the African context,” he admits.

Mawuli was persistent, however, and when she offered her services for free, he couldn’t resist giving her a trial. He gave her a machete and told her to clear tree trunks. To his surprise, she flourished.