The GHF (Ghana Air Force) started on 24 July 1959 as a Flying Training School with Israeli instructors and technicians, under the command of Lt. Col. Adam Shatkay of the IAF. The School was established as a cradle of service to complement the Army and the Navy. Later that year a headquarters was established in Accra under the command of Indian Air commodore K. Jaswant-Singh who was appointed as the first Chief of Air Staff (CAS).
In 1960 Royal Air Force personnel took up the task of training the newly established Ghana Air Force and in 1961 they were joined by a small group of Royal Canadian Air Force personnel. In September 1961 as part of President Kwame Nkrumah’s Africanization program, a Ghanaian CAS was appointed, with the first being J.E.S. de Graft-Hayford, born in the U.K. of Ghanaian descent.
The Ghana Air Force was at the beginning equipped with a squadron of Chipmunk trainers, and squadrons of Beavers, Otters, and Caribou transport aircraft. In addition, a DH125 jet was bought for Kwame Nkrumah; Hughes helicopters were bought for mosquito spraying plus DH Doves and Herons. British-made Westland Whirlwind helicopters and a squadron of Italian-made MB-326 ground attack/trainer jets were also purchased.
In 1962 the national School of Gliding was set up by Hanna Reitsch, who was once Adolf Hitler’s top personal pilot. Under the command of Air Commodore de Graft-Hayford, she served as director, operations instructor, and trainer of the school. She also acted as the personal pilot of Kwame Nkrumah from 1962–1966.
At independence, Ghana opted to retain the British order of military ranks and corresponding insignia. In the 1990s, Ghanaian ranks are still identical to British ranks and insignia except that Ghana substituted a black star or the Ghanaian coat of arms for the British crown on appropriate insignia.
Ghana Air Force Uniform
Officers in the army, air force, and navy and enlisted men in the army and air force wear their insignia on the shoulder. Naval enlisted men wear their insignia as cap badges except for leading seamen and first and second-class petty officers, who wear cap badges and shoulder insignia. Field uniforms of the army are olive green, those of the navy are dark blue, and those of the air force is light blue. Service caps are identical to British service caps.
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