The History of Aviation in Ethiopia

History of aviation in Ethiopia goes back to 1929 when French made airplane, Potez 25 flown by a French pilot Andre Milet landed in the western side of Addis Ababa enrooted from Djibouti. This was 26 years after the first attempted flight by the Wright brothers and two years after the famous flight across the Atlantic by Captain Lind burg. Although Millet piloted the first aircraft which marked the history of aviation in the country, soon came with his successors with other types of airplane after one month time- in the month of September.

In 1930 five sweater airplane like Farman-192 and others were purchased by the government for postal, security and government services between the towns of Dire Dawa, Djibouti, Debremarkos and Gondar. The dream that Ethiopian they would pilot the airplane was not long in coming true. In 1930 Gaston Vidal, a French Instructor, established the first pilot training Scholl in the town of Jigjiga which produced Mishka babichief and Asfaw Ali who were certified to be the first Ethiopian pilots. Mishka made his first solo flight on sept. 1, 1930 followed by Asfaw Ali only after thirteen days. Very soon Bahiru Kaba and Tesfamikael Haile were also added to the number. What is remarkable of that time was that W/ro Mulumebet Emrru also turned out to be one of the first Ethiopian female pilots. The school at Jigjiga was not only limited to the pilot training, but also added aircraft maintenance. Maintenance work was also began at Jenmeda (Addis Ababa) and Dessie. From 1926-1936 new domestic routes were opened to Gefersa, Bishoftu, Janmeda and Akaki, and the country had also acquired twenty airplanes until the occupation of Italy.

The aircraft technology did also cross a new frontier in Ethiopia with the assembling of the first aircraft named ETHIOPIAN ONE or TSEHAY by Land wing Weber, German national and engineer-in-charge. But During the Italian occupation the Ethiopian patriots camouflaged ETHIOPIA ONE in a forest with the idea that it would escape the Italian loot. But all their effort was in vain since the Italians got access to the hidden aircraft which today is kept in a museum in a naval force near Rome.


Fig.1. The first Aircraft manufactured in Ethiopia known as “Tsehay”

In 1930 the first maintenance technicians and flying school established in jigjiga, eastern Ethiopia and our forerunners were graduated in 1931. In 1944 the Ethiopian government was invited by the United States of America to attend the Chicago conference of December 7, 1944. This made Ethiopia one of the few African nations to sign the convention of the International Civil Aviation Organization. This same year another major step was taken by the Government of Ethiopia and the Civil Aviation Authority was founded. One year later in 1945 Ethiopian Airlines was founded with six-second world surplus DC-3/c-47 airplanes. In 1951 through the technical assistance provided by the International Civil Aviation Organization aviation school was opened in Addis Ababa. The first 60 trainees of the school were trained in Communication, Navigation, Aircraft, Metrology, and Radio operation and maintenance.

History of Aviation  (pdf)