Crete to Cape Town Vintageairrally launched
An event for vintage aircraft of the 1920s and ‘30s, the Crete2cape Vintageairrally set off on 12 November from Sitia, whence it will route across Africa to Cape Town, aiming to cover 8,000 miles in 35 days. Twenty teams from seventeen countries are competing, nine of them crewing vintage biplanes. They are scheduled to make 37 stops, arriving in Cape Town on 17 December.
Almost exactly recreating the 1931 Imperial Airways ‘Africa Route’, the aircraft will be flying low along the Nile from Cairo to Khartoum, past the highlands of Ethiopia, across the plains of Kenya and over the bustling hub of Nairobi. Then off again past Kilimanjaro to the Serengeti, on to the spice island of Zanzibar, and even further south, crossing Zambia, over the Victoria Falls to Bulawayo in Zimbabwe. The final days of this ‘epic journey’ take them into Botswana and South Africa to the Cape, journey’s end.
Vintageairrally is the brainchild of Sam Rutherford, founder of Prepare2go. Sam says there has never been an attempt by this number of vintage biplanes to travel such a distance across Africa. They will establish other firsts en route: “This is the first group of aircraft to have permission to land at the Giza pyramids in Egypt in eighty years. There is lots of local support for the event,” Rutherford reports. “The President of Botswana asked us to change the route so that it would include Botswana.” Appropriately, the Cliff Lovell-restored DH.60MW Gipsy Moth G-AAMY flown by Robert Redford ‘s character Denys Finch Hatton in the Oscar-winning movie Out of Africa will be joining the rally in Kenya.
Flying VFR, the teams will be travelling in ‘very loose formation’ (up to fifty miles between lead and tail-end Charlie) ‘to enhance both the safety and enjoyment factor’. Modern aeroplanes and helicopters will be functioning as support teams for the older machines. With challenges and leader boards comparable to those used in classic car rallies, the top team will win the Vintageairrally Trophy and the team judged to have demonstrated ‘the most exemplary behaviour’ will be rewarded with the Spirit of the Rally Trophy. To follow the rally’s progress, see: vintageairrally.com/event