The legendary Boeing 747 – the plane that flew Space shuttles, and made air travel safe and affordable for everyone else – is saying its final farewells from the Qantas fleet, and yesterday it tipped its wings to Canberra.
The 747 landed arrived at Canberra Airport from Sydney at 10:15 am before taking one last – albeit slightly delayed – joy flight over Brindabella National Park, down to Kosciuszko and then back up to Canberra with two final low passes over Lake Burley Griffin.
Last month Qantas announced it would retire its last two 747s in July as the ‘Queen of the Skies’ is replaced by the newer Airbus A380s and Boeing 787s.
Three joy flights over Canberra, Brisbane and Sydney are taking place this month to farewell the iconic plane. Melbourne will miss out on a farewell touchdown because of COVID-19.
Tickets for the one-hour joy flights sold out within 15 minutes and set nostalgic travellers back $747 for business class and $400 for economy. Premium economy was reserved for Qantas staff members.
The flight received a water fountain tribute from Canberra Airport’s fire trucks following the final flight over Canberra.
— Keg ?? ?? (@Keg767) July 17, 2020
The first Qantas 747 took to the skies in 1971, three years after Boeing rolled out the aircraft and one year after its first commercial flight from New York to London.
The aircraft also made history in 1989 by flying non-stop to Sydney from London, although there were no passengers on board and special fuel was used to cover the distance.
Qantas 747 Fleet Captain Owen Weaver said the 747 has a special place in the hearts of many Australians.
“The 747 has been a magnificent aircraft and it’s fitting that we celebrate the end of five decades of history-making moments for the national carrier and aviation in Australia,” Captain Weaver said.
Today’s flight over Canberra marked the very last time the Qantas 747 will carry passengers, although it won’t be the last flight. The aircraft will depart Sydney on 22 July 2020 as flight QF7474, bound for a storage facility in the Mojave Desert in the United States.