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Thursday, 24 Nov 2016

Missing Maurice Kirk ‘safe and accounted for’ but Vintage Air Rally halted

All crews taking part in the 8,000-mile voyage from Crete to Cape Town are being kept by authorities at an Ethiopian airport.

British maverick pilot, and no stranger to scandal and controversy, Maurice Kirk has turned up after being reported missing during the Vintage Air Rally (VAR).

He disappeared between Sudan and Ethiopia during a three-hour leg of the flight across Africa, causing a search and rescue operation to be launched.

Hopes of continuing with the 35-day rally from Crete to South Africa, covering some 8,000 miles, are now at risk as authorities in Ethiopia have decided to ‘allocate accommodation at the airport’ in Gambela for all the crews, around 40 people in all.

‘The reasons for this, at this time, are not 100% clear,’ read a statement on the VAR Facebook page. ‘There is no possibility to communicate with them but all participants, including Maurice Kirk, are safe and accounted for.’

‘The UK Foreign and Commonwealth office (FCO) is aware, is talking with other embassies and is negotiating on their behalf.’

There are reports that phones and computers have been confiscated.

Nothing out of the ordinary

Kirk’s involvement in the VAR caused concerns even before he went missing. He joined late flying a 1943 Piper Cub, despite the rally being intended for aircraft built in the 1920s and 30s.

The 71-year-old then suffered a heavy landing in Khartoum, which left him shaken, and had two engine failures. Organisers asked him to withdraw as his Cub did not have satellite tracking or a working compass, but he continued to fly south.

There was no way to contact him when he went missing on his way to Gambela as he had no radio.

This is nothing out of the ordinary for Kirk, former drinking buddy of actor Oliver Reed. After a string of court cases, the ‘Flying Vet’ was kicked out of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons for ‘disgraceful conduct’.

Then in 2008, he was arrested for landing a replica of a World War I biplane near to the Texan Ranch belonging to George W Bush. He wanted to thank the US President for being rescued by the Coastguard when his aircraft crashed in the Atlantic.

It remains unclear whether Kirk and the other VAR crews will be able to continue to South Africa.

Mark Hooper likes this.
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25 Nov 16
James Pearce The man seems as obnoxious as his old pal Oliver Reed. Never mind the consequences, just do what the hell you like. Seems he may have spoiled the trip for many others.
25 Nov 16
reginald McComish Comment
25 Nov 16
reginald McComish Spoiling things for others has been the trade mark of Maurice for a long time, he has always been a maverick and has rarely taken his flying(or its consequences) seriously. Plausible rogue perhaps but as different and diverse as snowflakes or fingerprints
25 Nov 16
IAN PARKINSON Comment
25 Nov 16
IAN PARKINSON Maurice is against anything with rules and authority. He had a good teacher in Oliver Reed
25 Nov 16
Bev Webb Then why is he feted and given publicity, which is the thing people like him are after?
25 Nov 16
Steve Payne Before we start slandering Mr Kirk, is there anything to suggest it was his behaviour or actions that caused the Ethiopians to confiscate phones and computers and provide accomodation. £300M in UK aid to Ethiopia which has a space programme...
25 Nov 16
Eddie Gold The wording in all the media reports have come from the organisers and therefore only show what they want people to hear. The rally entrants were 'detained' because they entered the country illegally at a non entry airport. Maurice Kirk was not with them.
25 Nov 16
Eddie Gold The authorities detained the crews and confiscated any item that may be used for unlawful uses. Cameras, iPads, Laptops and phones. Maurice Kirk had a working radio, compass and did have a tracker until Sam Rutherford took it away from him in Damazin.
25 Nov 16
Eddie Gold The organisers knew about MK's history but were happy to enrol him early on. The fact that he's been made a scapegoat for all that's wrong with the rally is a shame as the people who should be getting the flak are the people who messed up, the organisers.
25 Nov 16
Deleted User SOME OF YOU NEED TO GET A LIFE AND KEEP YOUR NEGATIVE REMARKS WITHIN THE CONFINES OF YOUR MOST LIKELY NEGATIVE LIVES. PEOPLE LIKE MAURICE KIRK AND OLIVER REED MAKE LIFE MORE INTERESTING THAN YOU DO!
26 Nov 16
Murray Flint Comment
26 Nov 16
Murray Flint Well said Lloyd!
26 Nov 16
Bob Weaver Kirk, an ambassador or unbridled rascal for flying? In1974 he inspired me into flying,he was my neighbour. One Saturday I saw his Volvo towing a Cub? by its tail wheel with a length of bailer twine around the bumper. I miss those good old unfettered days
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