Ethiopian authorities detained and later released several foreign pilots, including Americans, who were participating in a trans-Africa air rally, the United States Embassy said Thursday.
Following interventions by American embassy in Addis Ababa, 20 vintage airplanes and pilots have been released by Ethiopian authorities and are able to continue their flights down the African continent.
“Vintage Air Rally crew are allowed to fly on from Ethiopia! Aviators who were detained in Ethiopia are now free to continue their journey. The adventure continues!,” was posted on the rally’s Facebook page .
Wossenyelah Hunegnawm, the head of the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority, said the pilots entered Ethiopian airspace illegally Tuesday and prevented them from leaving the airport at Gambella, in western Ethiopia. On Thursday the pilots were cleared to continue their journey.
The Vintage Air Rally billed itself as a “flying rally across Africa, from Crete to Cape Town,” for planes built in the early 20th century.
One of the detained pilots is Briton Maurice Kirk, who had earlier been reported missing.
In the rally, teams from around the world are attempting to cross 10 countries in 37 stops and 35 days.