Today marks another historic milestone for Ethiopia with the handover of “Tsehay” to the Government of Ethiopia by the Italian authorities. “Tsehay” is the first aircraft built in Ethiopia in 1935, under the collaborative efforts of the German engineer and pilot of the emperor, Herr Ludwig Weber, and Ethiopian individuals of that era.
Its name was chosen in honour of Princess Tsehay, the daughter of Emperor Haile Selassie I. Over the past year, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has made great efforts in discussions with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni to guarantee the return of the aircraft to Ethiopia. Tsehay was designed as a two-seat, dual-controlled aircraft, featuring a more powerful engine. It possessed essential components such as a compass, pilot controls, and two fixed landing gears without brakes.
The engine, a seven-cylinder Walter Vinus with a water-cooling system, boasted a horsepower of 115. The maiden flight of Tsehay occurred in December 1935, during which Weber flew 50 kilometres from Addis Ababa. The flight lasted approximately seven minutes, with the airplane maintaining an altitude of 1000 meters above sea level. “Tsehay stands as the sole aircraft manufactured in Ethiopia prior to World War II. The aircraft was constructed with limited resources and space, relying on the craftsmanship of carpenters of that period. “Tsehay” represents the only surviving artifact from the aviation endeavours of the 1930s.