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Republic of Zimbabwe

The Country

The Republic of Zimbabwe is a land-locked nation located in southern Africa, between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers. It is bordered by South Africa to the south, Botswana to the west, Zambia to the north and Mozambique to the east. Much of the country consists of high veld grassland on a plateau 1200-1500 m (400-500 ft) high stretching across the central region of the country. The climate here is very pleasant due to the altitude and the fertile soil is good for farming. To the north and south of the plateau is the low veld, which has a more tropical climate. The country occupies a land area of 390,759 km2 (150,873 sq. miles) and the capital city is Harare (formerly Salisbury).
The population of the country has increased enormously since is was first explored by European settlers. In 1890 the population was only 600,000 blacks. By 1947 this had increased to 2.45 million - comprising 2.37 million blacks and 88,000 whites (3.3% of the total). In 2000 the total population was 11.9 million - comprising 71% Shona (or Mashona), 16% Ndebele (or Matabele), 11% other African, 1% White European and 1% Asian. White immigration (mainly from Britain) increased considerably after World War Two, and the white population reached a peak of 250,000 in the early 1960s before declining to its present level of below 100,000.

National History:
Summary Narrative History

Timeline - Key Dates in Zimbabwean History

Further National Information:
BBC News Profile: Zimbabwe
Yahoo Zimbabwe page
wikipedia: Zimbabwe
wikipedia: History of Zimbabwe


Civil Aircraft Registrations:
Under the British Empire and post-UDI, the registration sequences VP-YAA onwards and (later VP-Wxx) were used. After independence in 1980, the registration prefix Z-xxx was used, eg: Z-WPF.

No on-line civil aircraft register listing is known.

Aircraft Operators

Military Air Arms:
Air Force (Air Force of Zimbabwe)   [Includes Rhodesian Air Force]

Central Government Agencies:
Police Reserve Air Wing   [Rhodesia]

Public Service Aviation:
To be added

Commercial Aviation:
The local pre-WW2 airline was RANA (Rhodesia and Nyasaland Airways). At the outbreak of WW2 it was taken over by the Government and the company's aircraft and personnel incorporated into the SRAF. Air routes continued to be operated under the title Southern Rhodesia Air Services. Aircraft operated included DH.89 Rapide, DH.84 Dragon and DH.90 Dragonfly.
Postwar, Central African Airways was formed in November 1965, became Air Rhodesia in September 1967 and Air Zimbabwe in April 1980.

Air Rhodesia Viscount VP-YNI, August 1972 in front of the
terminal, Salisbury. (photo, Robin D.W.Norton)

Affretair was formed by Jack Malloch as Air Trans Africa. In the late 1960s it flew into Biafra (Nigeria) during the civil war. It operated Super Constellations and DC-7 aircraft, mostly registered in Gabon but often with the markings covered up with brown paper and masking tape. The Constellations used were lost through crashes, engine failure and having to land in other hostile African countries - where they were seized. The survivors finally being chopped up for scrap in 1970 at Salisbury Airport. The last one, VP-WAW, was used by another company within the group, Afro Continental Airways for charter work and a weekly return service to Windhoek in South West Africa (Namibia). This aircraft's final use was as a club house at Charles Prince Airport for a time in the 1970s before being scrapped. Affretair was formed when a DC-8 aircraft was acquired in the early 1970s for overseas freight operations, also registered in Gabon. The DC-7 aircraft were used for sanction busting flights with regular weekly schedules to Europe, mainly Amsterdam.

Father Christmas arrives early in Air Rhodesia Douglas
Dakota VP-YKP, November 1971. (photo, Robin D.W.Norton)

RUAC (Rhodesia United Air Charters) - became UAC after 1980
Matabele Air (Charter company operating out of Induna Airfield, Bulawayo in the 1970s)

Air Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe Express

wikipedia: Airlines of Zimbabwe
The World's Airlines: Zimbabwe

Private Aviation:
To be added


Aircraft Manufacturers:
None at present


Airports, Airfields and Air Bases:
Civil Airports and Airfields-
Harare International Airport
Victoria Falls
Airports in Zimbabwe

Military Air Bases and Airfields-
Military Air Bases Listing

On Show

Aviation Museums:
The only museum with aircraft is the Zimbabwe Military Museum at Gweru.

Airshow Dates:
Key Airshow Dates


Aviation-Related Magazines:
No Rhodesian/Zimbabwean aviation magazines known.

Magazine Dealers:
Recommended second hand magazine dealers

Aviation Bibliography:
Zimbabwe Aviation Bibliography

Aviation Bookshops:
On-line bookshops

Web Links:


Rhodesia and South Africa Military History

Rhodesian Aviation

Aviation Pictures

Air Rhodesia Viscounts

Thanks to Robin Norton for updating this page.

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First Created: 11 January 2003 - Last Revised: 29 August 2004
Copyright © 2003 John Hayles.     e-mail: john@aeroflight.co.uk