Retirement home for first Qantas 747-400 up in the air

written by australianaviation.com.au | December 16, 2014
Qantas 747-400 VH-OJA. (Boeing)
Qantas 747-400 VH-OJA. (Boeing)

Mystery surrounds the eventual retirement home of Qantas Boeing 747-400 VH-OJA, with the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) describing social media reports that it will take the aircraft as “rumour mongering”.

HARS president Bob De La Hunty says the “rumours” on social media are “all over the place”.

“None of it is right,” De La Hunty told Australian Aviation on Tuesday.

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“It’s someone else’s social media rumour mongering that is going on. Quite frankly they are driving me nuts.”

The Qantas Source website reported on December 7 that VH-OJA, which was the first Boeing 747-400 in the Qantas fleet and flew nonstop from London to Sydney in 1989 as part of its delivery flight, was “expected to be preserved at the Historical Aircraft Restoration facility at Wollongong”.

OJA operated what was expected to be its last commercial flight on December 7, when it departed Sydney as QF107 bound for Los Angeles. It was then expected to make the short hop across to Victorville where it was to be placed into storage.

However, the aircraft is still in active service with Qantas, having operated a Los Angeles-New York-Los Angeles rotation on December 12, according to flight tracking website Flightaware, and it is now scheduled to return to Sydney as QF18 from Los Angeles on December 18.

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The Airline Hub Buzz website had reported on December 4 that Qantas would “gift this aircraft to an Australian museum because of its historical significance”.

De La Hunty said “the right thing to do would be to ignore the social media”.

“It’s certainly a rumour and they are not getting it right or wrong,” De La Hunty said.

“It is just a situation where we are being bombarded and we are really not in a position to say anything about it, we don’t know anything about it.”

For its part the Qantas Founders Museum has confirmed it will not be taking VH-OJA.

“Over the last few weeks we have been frequently asked whether we are getting the Qantas Boeing 747 VH-OJA,” the museum, which is already home to Qantas 747-200 VH-EBQ, said on its Facebook page on December 9.

“Just to let you know Qantas Founders Museum will NOT be getting VH-OJA but thank you to everyone for showing an interest in the collection of Qantas Founders Museum!”

Australian Aviation understands that Qantas offered to donate OJA to the Qantas Founders Museum, but the museum had to decline due to a lack of space.

A Qantas spokesperson said in an emailed statement the airline had “nothing to announce yet” on OJA’s fate.

“We are still working through the logistics,” the spokesperson told Australian Aviation on Tuesday.

City Of Canberra AJ
OJA was on display during a recent Qantas staff open day in Sydney. (Anthony Jackson)

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21 Comments

  • John Harrison

    says:

    I was working for Qantas at Sydney Airport and was on duty when VH-OJA arrived from London, on that history making flight. It would be great to see the aircraft “preserved” I guess finding space for a B747-438 is a problem in itself. Lets hope space somewhere can be found for it, and in Australia. Also it will then need a band of dedicated people to look after it. Well done to Qantas if they are offering it to a museum, for safe keeping.

  • Richard

    says:

    Has a 747SP been presvered as well ?

  • Greg

    says:

    Channel Nine (Sydney) ran a story on VH-OJA on Saturday night (6/12/2014) that included the reunion of the record breaking crew as well as mentioning the the aircraft would be donated to a Museum.

    This is a historic aircraft that should be preserved and not turned into beer cans.

    Just think, if the RAAF or AWM or the Australian Government had gone around to the boneyards at Wagga Wagga, Tocumwal, Oakey etc. at the end of WW2 and collected one of each aircraft type. What a collection we would have today.

    Scrapping is easy, preservation takes guts.

    Greg

  • Stuart Waldon

    says:

    Temora would be a wonderful place for OJA. There is a large handstand there already and the Lowy’s would be rapt to have an aircraft like her I am sure!

  • Joe Hupp

    says:

    Temora Aviation Museum is only for vintage warbirds, Stuart….

  • Jeff Atkinson

    says:

    Just Park her at the end of the Wollongong runway(Historical aviation ctr) as if to take off! Can you imagine the amount of accidents at the roundabout..But boy it would look fantastic pointing down to the south. .Probably weather to quick and fade without a lot of TLC

  • MATE

    says:

    I will take this off your hands QANTAS, pm me

  • Adrian

    says:

    I really hope OJA remains in Australia. Wollongong would be perfect! It’s in a position to be seen by lots of people, unlike the QFM in Longreach where nobody can really get to, HARS already have a TAA DC-3 and a Qantas (USAF) Connie and all other types of ex-RAAF aircraft there so she would be very well taken care of. Not too mention the Wings over the Illawarra show yearly!! AND most of the engineers there are ex-QF or ex-RAAF!!! Hope this happens it would be awesome for the community!!

  • Mick F

    says:

    Hard stand at Temora isn’t that big. If you park a 744 there, there will be no more usable space. And it would be too close to the runway for safe ops. Plus like Joe says, the aim of the museum is to preserve and operate vintage military aircraft that have significance to Australian wartime operations.

  • Stu Bee

    says:

    It’s going to cost a lot of money to keep refuelling if she’s going to stay up in the air…

  • Shane

    says:

    Donate it to Canberra airport seems fitting being called the City of Canberra sure Stephen Byron could fund space for it as an attraction!

  • Mike

    says:

    I actually like the idea of preserving it in Canberra.

  • Rodney Marinkovic

    says:

    Dear QANTAS,
    dear present and retired people of our almighty Qantas group include Qantas museum in Longreach.
    Please join good will, Create synergy from all of as and if is need we establishing fond to bring celebrated
    QANTAS B747-400 VH-OJA to natural home, Qantas aviation museum at Longreach. Let give chance to this
    most important Aircraft to be part of as.. Part of Aussy soil. Part of AUSTRLIA from where OJA-CAMBERRA
    so proudly served people of the world. One more crucial need is to naming future second Sydney International Airports with our ex Qantas CEO, late JAMES STRONG. Noting more natural, than naming
    new airport with name of man who served QANTAS, AUSTRALIA and world if commercial aviation on edge of twenty and twenty first centaury. Kingsford Smith as James Strong is part of as. Let be them to be parts of as. Let be Qantas to be QANTAS. MERY CHRISTMUS to all my people of QANTAS and Australia.
    (If any one like to join above story and support my Mail is::[email protected]).
    Yours, Rodney Marinkovic, AME (ret.) Kraljevo Serbia /// Sydney.

  • aviatorman

    says:

    If there’s not much of a market for 2nd hand 4 engine 747’s , then preserving the 1st -400 at a good location for the public to inspect ‘close up’ makes a lot of sense. And for the public to be able to walk thru and see the ‘glass’ flight deck, on the upper deck, plus the size of the main deck cabin, is not only good publicity for our international airline, (with the big red kangaroo) but can be very educational especially for our younger generation. In the long term it should be under cover. We may not be Duxford or Smithsonian but one day we maybe. ( Think big Qantas.!!)

  • Russell M

    says:

    It would be ideal to have at Canberra International Airport.!!

    That way, they could at least claim to have an international aircraft there, even though there’s no international services to the International Airport 😉

  • Martin

    says:

    Makes me feel old that an aircraft that I watched arriving in 1989 when I still felt young is now on the brink of retirement.

    A major decision for any museum to take on such a large aircraft. Lets hope one comes forward and Qantas is willing to offer it up.

  • Taurean Lea

    says:

    I suggest that VH-OJA be put on display at Brisbane Airport or the Queensland Air Museum on the Sunshine Coast.

  • Russell M

    says:

    I’d love to volunteer to land it at Caloundra Airport (unless its been extended since I last few in there!).

    That would be a hell of a show!

  • Steve Riley

    says:

    Perhaps it could find itself on a purpose built hardstand at the new Western Sydney’s Lawrence Hargraves Airport ! . ✈️

  • Craig

    says:

    Agreed, Canberra is the most sensible place to put this historic aircraft. Plenty of room and potential to allow access to the public. The western side of runway 35 would be feasible, just north of runway 12, close to a taxiway to minimise the cost to establish, and in full view of the public visiting the Majura shopping precinct. Terry Snow, please consider!

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