Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

Tanzania: Kilimanjaro Glider Flights Ban Lifted Over Charity Expedition

Arusha — THE government has removed restrictions on Mount Kilimanjaro glider flights to allow a humanitarian mission to raise nearly two billion shillings for local charities.

Organised by the 'Wings of Kilimanjaro' in Australia, the first ever paragliding expedition, scheduled to kick off on Sunday, is expected to incorporate 100 expert climbers and pilots from around the world.According to the organisers, over 300 entrants from as far afield as Russia, Nepal, Singapore and Peru had shown interest in the event. Over 100 pilots have since been screened and accepted as Official Wings of Kilimanjaro Pilots.

The seven-day expedition will also provide direct employment to over 750 local supporting staff who will assist the climbers as cooks, porters, guides, and other crew who will be climbing along the 100 adventurers."We have to appreciate the cooperation shown by President Jakaya Kikwete who endorsed the mission because he was aware that nearly two million Tanzanians will benefit from the charitable gliding event from the Kilimanjaro," said the Project Manager, Ms Paula McRae.

Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) Public Relations Manager Paschal Shelutete confirmed that the authority has temporarily lifted the ban on Kilimanjaro glider flying expeditions to support the cause.Adventurers from all over the globe will assemble at the foot of the mountain, ready to attempt this first ever paragliding expedition to be undertaken from the top of Kilimanjaro.

With 100 participants, the team is also the largest ever group to attempt to ascend the 19,340-foot high Kilimanjaro, the world's tallest free standing mountain, flying from the Uhuru Peak summit.The climb and paraglide mission, will raise funds for three charities aiming at 'making a difference' on the ground in Eastern Africa. These include 'Plant with Purpose,' 'WorldServe International' and 'One Difference.'

The expedition was made possible by a "passionate team" from Australia that have worked for over two years to plan and convince the government of Tanzania to temporarily lift the ban to enable the "once in a lifetime event" to take place.Mr Adrian McRae, the founder of 'Wings of Kilimanjaro', said the group will spend seven days to trek to the peak where the pilots will launch the flight.

"This is slightly longer than most groups take to reach the summit but it is being done to optimize the pilots' acclimatisation and minimise the risk of hypoxia and acute mountain sickness," he said, adding that the TANAPA have also taken care of other necessary support.For the pilots, the expedition means fulfilment of a lifelong dream. Participants have committed themselves to raising a minimum of 5,000 US dollars towards the charity fund.

The record-breaking event will be communicated to the world via international sport, lifestyle and news media coverage; alongside global distribution of content via online, cable and network platforms, including popular video distribution and social media sites.

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