QANTAS 747 Farewell Flights. By Owen Zupp.
QANTAS 747 Farewell Flights.
The time has come for QANTAS to farewell the 747. After very nearly a half-century of loyal service, the pandemic has brought about the retirement of the “Queen of the Skies”.
The final QANTAS 747 was always scheduled to fly off into the sunset over the coming months but with international air travel at a standstill, that time came early. Speculation surrounded the timing and social media was filled with memories and even an outpouring of emotion for the airliner that changed the world. It would seem that those voices and their calls for one last goodbye have been heard.
QANTAS had always planned to farewell the 747 in style but in the midst of pandemic restrictions and tough times for the airline, it was becoming an increasingly difficult event to organise. To their credit, QANTAS appears to have managed to do both. There will be an opportunity for some employees to attend organised hangar visits and there will be a series of three “joy flights”. Flown out of Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra, the flights are sure to be oversubscribed by those wishing for one last flight and a chance to say goodbye to the “Queen”.
I have been fortunate to have two terms on the 747 – one when I first joined QANTAS after the Ansett collapse and my most recent, on my return from a stint as an Airbus captain at Jetstar. In both cases, my time on the 747 has not only been enjoyable but pivotal in my life at that particular time.
Even though the aircraft was my workplace, I was continually in awe of its versatility and capability. Its ability to uplift a tremendous load and cruise sweetly at Mach 0.86 before slowing down at its destination and extending its impressive array of high-lift devices from its swept wing to approach the runway at a comfortably slow speed. It has piggy-backed the Space Shuttle, been converted to a freighter, and used as a telescope platform to peer into space – and that’s just a few of the many variants. Joe Sutter and his team at Boeing certainly got it right.
Still, possibly the most amazing achievement is how it has touched so many lives. Both as a means of global transport and as a focus of attention for aviation enthusiasts. As it is slowly retired by airlines around the world, experiences are being shared with a voice never heard previously in support of an airframe. To so many, this airframe has a heart.
Yes, it is time to say farewell, but we are fortunate that we will have the opportunity to say goodbye to the 747. Whether that is in person, online or in a glimpse of those familiar lines as she passes overhead for the final time. The “Queen of the Skies” may be gone but she will not be forgotten.