A Kangaroo in the Sky by a QANTAS 747. By Owen Zupp.
Creating a kangaroo in the sky on the QANTAS 747’s final departure from Sydney has generated an incredible amount of interest. For those tracking the flight path, the form of the ‘roo was shared around the world in an instant through the marvel of the internet. The kangaroo in the sky seemed to have captured the imagination of people and, as one of the pilots, that is a truly humbling thought.
Weeks in planning by a dedicated team, the process was flown in the simulator on a number of occasions to confirm the routing and the best way for the aircraft to be flown. As recently as the week before departure, the plan was rehearsed in the simulator with timings, fuel burn, airspeeds and configurations all noted down.
Similarly, the fly past over Sydney Harbour and over her sister ship, Boeing 747 VH-OJA at HARS, at Shellharbour was equally planned and prepared for. As an aviation event, it was a pleasure to be a part of in every sense. And when the day arrived, the festivities before the flight were amazing and moving, though few knew that two of the crew had already been on the flight deck and programmed the kangaroo flight path into the Flight Management Computer.
Dignitaries and employees of the past and present signed the fuselage of the 747 “Wunala” with some recording moving dedications. At this point, I first sensed that this was not merely an aircraft retirement flight that was stirring interest in the aviation community – it was something more.
It was a feeling that was confirmed when we arrived in Los Angeles after 15 hours of flying. The excitement of a gathered crowd at the airport, with some bearing Australian flags. The crew’s phones were buzzing madly with messages and the emails from home all featured links to media coverage. The excitement was tangible and importantly, positive.
In recent weeks, under the pall of Covid, the news seems to have all been grim. Even when the coverage stepped away from the pandemic, the stories seemed to be of heartbreak of varying origins. But this flight seems to have stirred something deeper and hopeful.
In the people waving flags and sharing memories of the Queen of the Sky, there was an undertone of warmth. Sentimentality was openly encouraged and there was an outpouring of love for the 747, but more importantly what she represented – resilience, adaptability, reliability and endurance. Qualities that elsewhere seem to be submerged at present.
On this day, from Shep’s Mound to the foreshores and beyond, people were unified and looking up. The sky was filled with sunshine and the mood was that anything can be achieved as we move forward together.
In a time when it seems easier to focus on the gloom, on her final journey for QANTAS, the Queen of the Skies delivered her most precious cargo yet….Hope.