The Vintage Air Rally is on it’s way to Zimbabwe. The inaugural event, whichwas dubbed “the Crete2Cape edition”, began on the 12th of November in Sitia, Crete, Greece and is expected to end in Cape Town, South Africa on the 17th of December. The fleet comprises of 21 aircraft, 11 of which are vintage according to Mr Bruno Van den Bossche, marketing manager for Inspiration Zimbabwe. The vintage planes are from the 1920’s and 1930’s and the contingent is flying from Greece through 9 countries and finishing in South Africa. The rally has already landed in Egypt and from there they will go to Sudan. They will then go to Ethiopia and then Kenya where they’ll hold their second air show in Nairobi, the first having been already held in Egypt. “After Nairobi they fly to Tanzania, Kilimanjaro airport, another icon on the map of Africa”, said Mr Van den Bossche.
The planes will then make way to Zambia, reaching Lusaka on the 4th of December where there’ll be an air show at the Kenneth Kaunda airport. On the 6th of December, the rally lands at the Victoria Falls Airport. Then they will be in Zimbabwe for 4 days, two nights in Victoria Falls and two in Bulawayo. There will be a private air show in Victoria Falls. The air show has been made private because the strip is not equipped to handle crowds of people who would attend the show if it were public. From Zimbabwe, the rally will head to Botswana where President Ian Khama, an avid aviator, will host the rally for a couple of days before the rally reaches South Africa. The rally is scheduled to reach Cape Town on the 17th of December after a possible air show in Baragwanath near Johannesburg.
The rally offers a lot of exposure to the countries they will visit. A Facebook video of their landing at the Giza Pyramids, the first landing there in 80 years, received over 412 000 views and counting. Undoubtedly an opportune time for the tourism industry to showcase the best of Zimbabwe.
The pilots will be accommodated for two nights at the Victoria Falls Hotel, a partnership between Meikles Hospitality and African Sun. “We are very happy to be a part of the Vintage Air Rally and it’s a great opportunity from our perspective…” said Mr Sebastien Benning, the Marketing Director for Meikles Hospitality. The entourage will also spend two nights at the Holiday Inn hotel in Bulawayo before their departure to Botswana. He also went on to highlight how beneficial being part of the Vintage Air Rally will be to the Zimbabwean hospitality industry as it gives all stakeholders an opportunity to put Zimbabwe on the map and promote the tourism industry. Mr Jeffreys Manjengwa, executive director of Destination Marketing under the Zimbabwean Tourism Authority expressed that tourism is a collaborative effort and all interested parties, not only in Zimbabwe but across Africa, must come together to showcase the best of Africa in efforts like the Crete2Cape Vintage Air Rally.
The Vintage Air Rally is being sponsored by Jaguar Land Rover, Bushcat Aircraft and Puma Energy which is responsible for the fuelling of the planes at each of the stops. “Puma Energy is delighted to be the official fuel partner of the Vintage Air Rally. We are fully mobilised to keep these magnificent aircraft fuelled along the rally’s route as they weave their way down the continent”, said Jonathan Molapo, COO of Puma Energy Africa. Mr Emmanuel Tivatye , Love For Africa’s representative, said the organisation is the logistical partner of the rally in Victoria Falls. “We are very much excited to be a part of this Vintage Air Rally as a logistical partner’, Mr Tivatye said. The Vintage Air Rally is supporting charities that include Unicef, Bird Life International and Seed Bombing which looks to reforest some parts of Africa which the rally will fly over. Bird Life International has come in to raise awareness on the endangered species of vultures in Africa. “A ‘Vulture Squadron’ quite dissimilar to Dick Dastardly’s, the Vintage Air Rally is specifically supporting the conservation of Africa’s vulture species – seven out of eleven of which are on the edge of extinction” said Dr Julius Arinaitwe, Programme Director of Bird Life International Africa. There are teams from six continents flying on the rally and 17 countries are represented including Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Egypt. The Vintage Air Rally promises to be a spectacle for aviation fanatics and could provide a platform for the tourism business to ride on and create further awareness on Zimbabwe’s tourist destinations, specifically Victoria Falls.