Qantas confirms VH-OJA final flight for March 8

Qantas 747-400 VH-OJA. (Boeing)

Qantas’s historic Boeing 747-400 VH-OJA will fly into its new home with the Historical Aviation Restoration Society (HARS) at Illawarra Regional Airport on Sunday March 8.

The aircraft, which flew non-stop on its delivery flight from London to Sydney in 1989 and was Qantas’s first 747-400, is being retired after some 25 years’ service and has been donated to HARS.

OJA was expected to land at Illawarra Regional Airport at Albion Park south of Wollongong at about 0750 local time. The airport’s 16/34 runway was about 1,800 metres long.

The exact timing and date of the delivery flight was subject to weather conditions on the day, Qantas said on Tuesday.

The airline advised that perimeter roads around Illawarra Regional Airport will be subject to closures on the day.

According to the minutes of an extraordinary meeting of the Shellharbour City Council held on Monday February 9, the aircraft would be open to the public between 10am and 3pm each day and at other times by appointment.

“At this stage HARS have advised that there is no commercial operation to occur relating to this aircraft,” the minutes said.

“This will be a condition of the licence agreement.”

The licence to park the aircraft was valid for five years.

HARS has received an “in-kind donation” from the Council to subsidise the cost of renting the site where VH-OJA will be stationed.

The cost of the rent after the subsidy is $4,773.60 per year plus GST, the minutes said.

There was also an annual fee of $650 plus GST for the lease of airspace given part of the left wing and tail will be 6.9 metres above Airports Road.

The proposed location of VH-OJA at Illawarra Regional Airport. (Shellharbour City Council)
The proposed location of VH-OJA at Illawarra Regional Airport. (Shellharbour City Council minutes)

Comments

  1. Peter Jones says

    “‘The licence to park the aircraft was valid for five years.” It is going to be interesting if the licence isn’t extended beyond 5 yrs.

  2. Michael says

    Part of the wing and tail overhanging a road!!! Are the local council going to erect low clearance signs and whatever those hanging pole things are before the aircraft to avoid it getting hit by trucks? Like you see with a lot of bridges.

  3. Flyer says

    I think that’s a bit rich of Shellharbour Council charging HARS to rent the tarmac and airspace that the aircraft will occupy. Especially given the economic benefit that the museum and it’s new attraction has and will continue to provide. Maybe they should be providing HARS will the full “in kind” donation each year in thanks…

  4. Mace says

    @ “Flyer” haha that is very typical of the peanuts that supposedly run Shellharbour City Council. SMALL and greedy minds my friend 😉 It is amazing (as a totally unrelated but aviation minded person) to see the crap HARS has had to put up with over the years. Full credit to HARS! Good on you guys!
    As a side note the council has screwed the AAFC (Australian Air Force Cadets) by forcing them to move premises from that airfield…they now are forced to hold their meetings over 14km away near the Lake Illawarra Yacht Club.
    Rest assured though, the council will all be flashing shiny smiles on the day and claiming praise for making OJA happen for HARS….

  5. Jon says

    Well no supprise it’s all about money and revenue what a great gift from QF could have finished up in the Arizona desert and maybe 25 years Down
    the track someone might re discover it like the Connie when there are no more Warren Goodhughs and similar like folks to rescue QFs heritage”””Wake up Council think of the recipient it will bring”” go for it Hars cheers Jon

  6. says

    I worked for Qantas at the time OJA arrived’ and i will be there as the big girl arrives in my home town. Who could have ever thought when i was working at Mascot that this big girl would retire at Albion Park ‘great work HARS can’t wait Peter

  7. Mac Carter says

    This was to be a permanent home for this aircraft.
    Now we are advised it has permits only for 5 years.
    What happens to it after then?
    Will it be capable of being flown out to a new home after 5 years of sitting out in the elements?
    Perhaps the Founders Museum at Longreach should be given more consideration.
    No shortage of real estate for parking, no need for wings, tail section to overhang roads.
    The Town needs the extra tourists and aviation enthusiasts that this historic aircraft will bring.

  8. Peter A says

    There is a huge historical significance with OJA… as mentioned, London to Sydney non-stop on its delivery flight. I remember that rainy August day in 1989 when OJA first landed in Sydney. This was the first of the Longreach series of 747s which offered non-stop daily commercial flights to west coast USA and one stop flights to London. Also more history to be made, with this being the largest aircraft ever to land at the Illawarra Regional Airport. It would be good to be there on the day. I wonder if any tickets can be purchased / auctioned for this last flight OR will it be the case of keeping the weight to the absolute minimum??

  9. Flyer says

    @ Mac Carter..
    The 5 year permit does not mean that the council are only allowing the aircraft to stay for 5yrs. It means that after that time they will then renegotiate the rental cost with HARS. If it was an indefinite agreement then HARS would just continue to pay the same amount each year. This allows council to hike up the rent every 5 years.
    As I said in an earlier post, sadly it’s just poor form by council.

  10. Jim says

    I have worked on this aircraft and its good to see that Qantas was not allocating another aircraft to the dessert in the U.S. In my opinion it should have gone out to Longreach with the 707 already there.

  11. Doug4500 says

    The pin-headedness and blinkered vision of the council is a standout and dominates this otherwise great story of a wonderful bird that has served us well. I remember her delivery flight.

  12. says

    I agree with the sentiments expressed above. The benefits such an attraction should seem to have been ignored, and mindless apprentice hitlers on council flexing their insipid muscles to put impediments at every step. The simple fact is – once there it’s not about to escape, so best to simply not pay ANY fees and bring those little petty minded pissants to their knees. Let them try closing down the whole facility – the public reaction will destroy them, so bring it on. My father in law – Freddy Fox took delivery of that aircraft – and others, so I’ll be there. I have a newspaper clipping somewhere of him in his mini-minor alongside the nosewheel. Could be a valuable part of the ‘collection’. PC

  13. Judy R says

    Some lateral thinking, or a child playing with blocks, would soon change the positioning problem.. By moving the taxiway curve the 747-400 could be swung totally within the area. The twins shown could still be taxied & parked without encroachment,
    OR realign the ‘road’ in that section – there’s space. Further suggestions? ……….
    No problem – just a challenge for some thinking individuals who appreciate history, aviation and the honour of having QF-OJA.
    Who else but a local council would permit a valuable Australian icon to be put at risk with tail & wing hanging over a road?

  14. Wayne says

    It is great that the council give HARS and our first 744 such a “good” rental deal, and that it will remain close to its Sydney home. though i do think also that Longreach would have been a better option. I am wondering where and how they get off charging for “airspace” for the roadway overhangs???? I am unaware of rental charges for overhead bridges, roads or walkways to private or public places. Must have smaller little fingers than I thought.

  15. says

    It really shows the greed of local Shellharbour Council that they are going to charge HARS and annual fee to stand the aircraft on what is really public ground, owned by the people that pay rates & taxes in the local area. Are the councillors all got their heads in the sand, don’t they understand that just having this 747 at Albion Park will be a major tourist attraction and boom for local business. For any local resident reading my comment, ask your local elected councillor WHY are they so gready !!.

  16. Chris W. says

    What a mean spirited council!!. Fancy charging those exorbitant costs on to a volunteer organization when it will be bringing thousands of tourist dollars to the area for many years ti come. I hope that all of those councilors get turfed out at the next election. Shame on all of you. I think that Longreach would be a better resting place for it because of the dry atmosphere there. Humidity is not good for long term preservation of aircraft.

  17. Raymondo. says

    The rental farce demonstrates some grub on council is jealous of the success of HARS so this is payback.
    Ratepayers need to remember that at the next elections.

  18. Bill says

    What a fantastic addition to HARS. Well done on securing this amazing drawcard. I’m sure council & HARS can come to a neutral cost for having this piece of Australian history in the Iillawarra. Hope the Albion Park bypass is close enough to allow those who travel through Wollongong to see the iconic red & white flying kangaroo tail from the road (on top of the brown tourist road signs pointing to this attraction). Cant wait to see history in the making. Thanks for the gift Qantas.

  19. michael says

    GOING DOWN FROM COFFS HARBOUR TO ALBION PARK TO WATCH THE JUMBO COME IN SHOULD BE AN AMAZING DAY, MY COUSIN GARRY IN 1970 STARTED HIS APPRENTICESHIP WITH QANTAS JUST WHEN THE BOENG 747 CAME IN TO SERVICE, SO HE HAD TO LEARNTO FIX BOEING 707 AIRCRAFT AS WELL AS THE THEN NEW 747, A VERY STEEP LEANING CURVE, THEN 9 YEARS LATER JOINED THE ROYAL AUST AIR FORCE AND GOT TO HEAD A TEAM THAT LOOKED AFTER THE PRIME MINISTERS BOEING 767, GOT TO FLY ALL OVER THE WORLD AND LOVED IT , HAS SPENT THE LAST 25 PLUS YEARS WITH THE CUSTOMS SERVICE AT THE BRISBANE AIRPORT, STILL CALLS IN TO SEE US WHEN HE IS DOWN THIS WAY, HE IS NOW RETIRED SO HE HAS MORE TIME ON HIS HANDS TO VISIT THE RELATIONS.

  20. Richard says

    Why not fly it to the Avalon Air Show for a static display and maybe a couple of flypasts on the Public Days!!!

  21. grant says

    You can not trust Local Government.
    5 years is the thin edge of the wedge, after that watch the greed take over!!!!

    Lease should be minimum of 99 years, rent free.

  22. Russell M says

    Couple of quick comments:-

    Whilst I know local councils have to try and raise a dollar however they can, the dollars this aircraft will bring in from a tourist point of view will far outweigh a piddly rent each year. I live in Melbourne, but am considering how I could wrangle a drive to the Gong when this thing lands, and will almost certainly “divert” on another drive with the kids to go and have a look through it, especially if it is open to the public at any stage. That will bring some $$ to the district, and an area I would not otherwise deliberately drive through.

    Secondly – if anyone posting here lives nearby, please take a moment to send the URL to your local Council Member, to show the comments being made, and the scabby nature of their rental agreement. It doesn’t take much negative publicity for Councils, businesses and other agencies to start to squirm over their “reputation risk” and start to re-think their dollar or two on a deal.

    If a local (so therefore a vote at risk) could send an email to one or all Council members, that will have a lot more impact than one from myself from interstate. Please post back on this thread if you do send an email

    Thanks!!

  23. aviatorman says

    Ya know, 5 years might be just enough time to build a suitable hangar to house the digital 747-400 and some other worthwhile additions… That’ll keep the weather off it. and negate the $650 which everyone’s concerned about.
    At least at Albion Park Rail (or should it read Albion Park Plane) lots more people should get to see it, than if its at Longreach who already have a steam driven classic 747. Anyway, only the ‘grey nomads’ with their caravan’s manage to get to the centre of QLD.

  24. aussie0000 says

    Ahh those councils. Butchers and bakers and candlestick makers. Mostly unqualified for their position.
    What say these learned greedy sods contemplate a profit sharing per ticket sold.
    Take the profits and the losses as the museum finds their fortune.

  25. Brian says

    Fantastic to have this beautiful bird at the gong. I drive past the airport often when going down to Culburra. This will be something to look at!!

  26. Jeff Atkinson says

    Its Election time isn’t it? Be Very Vocal , The pollies are always saying how they can cut the bureaucracy in Govt.,This is a no brainer.The local input by drive by and small business with publicity will make it work.Councillors have no concept of small business let alone have a corporate. acumen to how things should work..Will be there to see her come in.I saw the first AIR NEWZEALAND 747-200 come into Christchurch way back, With my best mate, and we will be there to watch this together again

  27. George B says

    Hopefully Longreach will get the last 747-400 Qantas operates as a final flight.