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Paragliding returns to Kwahu after two-year hiatus

BY: Kester Aburam Korankye
Paragliding returns to Kwahu after two-year hiatus
Paragliding returns to Kwahu after two-year hiatus

After a two-year hiatus, the annual paragliding festival, held during the Easter season has returned to Kwahu.

Seasoned pilots from around the world have since Thursday, when the festival opened, flown hundreds of revellers from the paragliding field on the peak of the Odweanoma mountain at Atibie into the plains of Nkawkaw.

The revellers, both locals and foreigners some of who flew into the country purposely for the festival, paid GH₵550 for the experience which includes landing on the pitch of the Nkawkaw Sports Stadium which is about the most low-lying spot in Kwahu.

"The paragliding exercise is done at the mercy of the wind. The wind must blow towards a particular direction to influence the fight," Kwame Owusu, a Ghanaian resident in the United States of America (USA) who is a certified Paragliding Pilot, told Graphic Online in an interview.

He explained that paragliding was an exciting aviation sport that could bring excitement to those who indulge in it and could also help open up the country's tourism industry.

"There are lots of mountains in Ghana so imagine what we can do," he said.

Asked whether it was a scary experience, he said: "I was also scared the first time but a few weeks later I went to the mountain and did it. I know people are scared. Yes, they have to be scared because we are not birds. But this is safe and I encourage everyone to get involved". 

He said he had completed 48 flights since he became a certified pilot a year ago. 

Another pilot, Cherie Silvera who also flew in from the USA said the Kwahu Easter paragliding festival was unique because it was fused into an entire celebration involving many communities. 

Ms Silvera, who has been paragliding for 25 years said the beauty of the festival was in the people who gather for it.

"I was here three years ago and I couldn't wait to be back," she said.

Revamp

The Deputy Head of Corporate Affairs at the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), Kofi Atta Kakra Kusi who praised the Graphic Communications Group Limited's coverage of the festival, said it has been a priority of successive governments to make the paragliding festival a major event on the national tourism calendar.

He said the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic forced the GTA to break the paragliding festival because there was economic hardship and travel restrictions around the world.

He said the lifting of the restrictions had naturally revived the enthusiasm of revellers in the festival, and that had also pushed the GTA to organise it this year.

This year, he said the patronage had been enormous such that in the first two days about 120 people had flown tandem flights with a pilot.

"It has been an exciting experience for revellers and all of us," he said.

For the first time in the history of the festival, he said a locally-trained pilot, Jonathan Quaye, who can carry passengers has been certified to participate in the festival. 

Genesis

The festival was the brainchild of Ferdinand Ayim who was a special assistant to the then Minister of Tourism and Modernisation of the capital city, from 2002 - 2005, Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey.

The festival has over the years become an important activity on the country's tourism calendar. 

The GTA has therefore mounted a monument at the paragliding field in honour of Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey and Mr Ayim who have both passed on to eternity.