By Aaron Maasho
ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Aviators who were detained in Ethiopia while retracing a historic flight route along the length of Africa in 24 vintage planes and support aircraft are now free to continue their journey, the group organizer said on Thursday.
The Vintage Air Rally crew, flying aircraft that include biplanes built in the 1920s and 1930s, were held at the airport in Gambela, western Ethiopia, after they landed following their arrival from neighboring Sudan.
They have already flown from Europe and through Egypt and plan to end the tour in South Africa. The oldest plane taking part dates to 1928; the oldest pilot is 72.
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"Just been resolved now," rally organizer Sam Rutherford told Reuters in a brief text message when asked for an update on their situation. "In hotel, Kenya tomorrow!"
The group of 47 people had been held in a building at the airport and had not been allowed to stay at a hotel they were booked at, the group had said in an earlier Facebook statement.
Wesenyeleh Hunegnaw, director-general of the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority (ECAA), had told a news conference in Addis Ababa that the group lacked proper authorization for their trip and had made an unauthorized stop in Gambela.
There was no immediate official comment about a resolution.
The aviators' aim is cross 10 countries, making 37 stops in a little more than a month. Kenya was their next planned stop.
(Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Mark Heinrich)