Thursday 11th June 2020 is a significant day in the history of Harare in that on this day one hundred years ago the first aeroplane to land in the town touched down just after 11.00.

The aircraft was a converted military AVRO 504K owned by the South African Aerial Transport Company. It was on a tour of the country giving pleasure flights to those who could afford the experience.

Two pilots accompanied the aircraft: Mr. Earl Rutherford and Mr. C.R. Thompson. Before arriving in the then Salisbury they had spent time giving flights in Bulawayo, Gwelo and Gatooma. After Salisbury the tour continued to Rusape, Umtali and Wankie.

The Mayor Mr. George Elcombe selected a site for a landing ground on the old Race Course.   This area now comprises the Civic centre with buildings such as the Rainbow Towers Hotel, Conference Centre, Magistrates Courts, Museum, Library, Rowan Martin Building and ZANU (PF) Headquarters.

Mr Thompson travelled by train from Gatooma the previous day to check on the suitability of the site selected by the Mayor.  

Two Gatooma residents, Messrs Ulyett and Thornton were passengers on the plane when it landed. A large crowd assembled to welcome the aircraft. Mr. Thompson then took the Mayor and Miss Margaret Thompson for a flight over the town. Messrs Thompson and Rutherford remained in the town for ten days giving flips for residents.


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