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James Strong among six new inductees to Australian Aviation Hall of Fame

written by australianaviation.com.au | September 13, 2017

Former Qantas chief executive James Strong.
James Strong

Former Qantas chief executive James Strong has been named as one of six new inductees into the Australian Aviation Hall of Fame (AAHOF).

Strong, a towering figure in the local aviation scene, oversaw the transformation of Trans Australia Airlines (TAA) into Australian Airlines as its chief executive from 1986 and 1989.

Then, as chief executive of Qantas between 1993-2001, he led the airline through the merger with Australian and its eventual privatisation.

He also returned to Qantas as a non-executive director in 2006.

Qantas named its first retro roo Boeing 737-800 VH-XZP in his honour in 2014, with the aircraft painted in Qantas’s iconic ochre colour scheme of the 1970s and early 1980s featuring a bowtie decal on the nose.

Jeane-Claude Strong with Alan Joyce and Qantas crew in front of a bowtie decal on VH-XZP’s nose in James Strong’s honour. (Seth Jaworski)
Jeane-Claude Strong with Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce and Qantas crew in front of a bowtie decal on VH-XZP’s nose in James Strong’s honour in November 2014. (Seth Jaworski)


Strong died in 2013.

The airline he led, TAA, was also named as an AAHOF inductee alongside four other individuals.

The full list of of inductees is:
– Edward Connellan, founder of Connellan Airways in 1943;
– John Corby, aviation engineer and designer of the Corby Starlet;
– James Strong, former Qantas chief executive and non-executive director
– Bob Tait, renowned aviation educator and pilot;
– Nancy-Bird Walton, the youngest woman to obtain a commercial licence in the British Empire and founder of the Australian Women Pilots’ Association.
– Trans Australian Airlines

The official induction ceremony will take place at a dinner to be held at the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) at Illawarra Regional Airport, Albion Park on Saturday November 25.

“These five outstanding individuals and TAA join thirty seven other individuals and six organizations in the Hall of Fame,” AAHOF chairman Steve Padgett said in a statement on Wednesday.

“All have made quite magnificent contributions in their respective fields for the major benefit of Australia, particularly regional and remote Australia.”

In June, AAHOF said it would establish a permanent home at Illawarra Regional Airport after striking an agreement with HARS.

Established seven years ago, the AAHOF seeks to recognise those who have contributed to Australia’s great aviation and aerospace record while inspiring young people to become involved in the industry.

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Comments (4)

  • Rodney Marinkovic


    James Strong is among legendary leaders in last hundred year of
    Qantas history. My great privilege among tousents of people to seving
    QANTAS under His leadership,
    Rodney Marinkovic
    Home of Qantasville II.????????

  • Melanie Hillard


    James Strong – the man who was sacking staff at Qantas at the same time he and the board members were rewarding themselves with company bought BMWs as Christmas presents.

  • Paul Rigg


    Back when he was CEO of TAA / Australian Airlines James Strong was being intervied by a reporter (I cant remember the name of now) the report said to James Strong do you mind if I call you Jimmie? to which James Strong replied “No call me James” . From that moment he was always known as “Jimmie, call me James” to the staff of TAA.

    James Strong was one hell of a leader and transformed TAA into Australian Airlines, modernising the whole airline, Most staff loved him, some hated him. To his credit he is the only CEO I have known (of Both Australian Airlines and Qantas) who used to go to every staff ball and mingle with the staff talking to everyone socially. He used to listen to peoples opinions and take on board what they said, good or bad. People mattered to him and he made it a point to try and meet everyone who worked for him and talk to them and regulary visited various workplaces to talk to the staff.

    I think he was the best CEO Qantas , Australian and TAA ever had, he was definately the most memorable and a larger than life character.

    I joined TAA in 1977 as and Apprentice and am ironically retining from Qantas on the Anniversay of the merger of Qantas and Australian Airlines

  • Peter J CESNIK


    He was a legend. As a shop steward I remember he told me on his visit to our area: :Any problems you might encounter do not hesitate to call. .My door is always open : Yes he was paid handsomely – as Melanie Hillard stated – but then he did lead a lot of people and he did restructure TAA – later Australian Airlines and a bit later Qantas into some of the best airline businesses in the World. It is sadly notice that leaders after him (Dixon, Joyce) never reached the level of intimacy in business with staff as James had. We trusted the MAN…

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