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Queen of the skies begins farewell tour

written by Adam Thorn | July 14, 2020
VH-OEJ-departure1 v2
Qantas 747 VH-OEJ begins its farewell tour out of Sydney Airport (Seth Jaworski)

Qantas began its series of farewell flights to its 747 fleet on Monday when VH-OEJ departed Sydney at 10:15am for a one-hour tour of the city.

Australian Aviation photographer Seth Jaworski was in the sky himself to document the take-off and water cannon salute for the aircraft dubbed The Queen of the Skies.

Monday’s event was the first of three special goodbye flights, with another set for Brisbane on Wednesday and Canberra on Friday. The very last flight, QF7474, will take place at 2pm on 22 July from Sydney to Los Angeles.

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Owen Zupp has flown the 747 multiple times and was among those at the event this morning in Sydney.

He told Australian Aviation the aircraft brings back fond memories both on the flight deck and at a port of call. He added that travelling on a 747 expands the joy of an overseas holiday, and said it’s “one of the magical things about the aircraft”.

Another excited attendee, university student and aviation enthusiast Jack, said he had “two laptops going” in order to secure his ticket to the event, which was said to have sold out within minutes of being launched to the public last week.

Jack’s father, Michael, also has fond memories of travelling on the 747 and said it “really opened up the world to everyone, so it’s a pretty sad day really.”

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Meanwhile, Qantas employee Juliette, who worked on the 747 in the past, revealed her passion for the aircraft was fuelled by travelling on it when her family emigrated to Australia when she was just 11.

“It felt like home, even to be leaving family, there’s something magical about the aircraft, and especially flying with Qantas,” she said.

Even as someone on Qantas payroll, Juliette had to be online and ready to buy her tickets as soon as they came available, and was lucky enough to secure two tickets – with one lovingly gifted to her mother.

Proceeds from the ticket sales will be donated to the HARS Aviation Museum in NSW and the Qantas Founders Museum in Longreach, Queensland. Both currently have 747s on public display.

Qantas had planned to phase out the 747 at the end of the year, but brought its plans forward due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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8 Comments

  • Liss Guest

    says:

    QANTAS missed a golden PR opportunity by not allowing more flights, the demand was there in spades. Very poor management decision not to put on extra flights.

  • Doug

    says:

    Seems academic now, in the short term. The entire airline industry has been all but completely shutdown because of this damned Covid bug, arguably for am obscenely-corrupt political agenda, but that is another theme altogether.

    I shall miss the best, toughest and most confidence-inspiring modern aircraft ever built and in which I have made countless flights and a few in seriously tough conditions.

    This is a classic example of the problems that arise when bean-counters drive companies to the exclusion of all other considerations, as might be exemplified by the eventual non-wisdom of the A380 and the “more-haste-less-speed development” of the B737 Max.

  • Wayn

    says:

    Given such strong demand from customers for these farewell flights, I wonder why Qantas doesn’t add more on ? I’m sure that Qantas staff would appreciate the work and the respective aviation museums would appreciate the additional fundraising. Win win.

  • Craigy

    says:

    I understand that some or all of the B744ER have been sold and not for scrap. Does anyone know who has bought them?

    • Barry Paul Ney

      says:

      General Electric

  • Laila

    says:

    Farewell dear Queen of the Skies. You have been a loyal and hard working carrier for Australia and the world. May you have calm winds and clear skies all the way to LA. Love to be in Sydney to give you a wave but stuck the martial law state of Vic. Will pop a cork on 22nd and track your flight to VCV retirement.
    Now if our planet could recover so we can fly again. X

  • Rod Pickin

    says:

    I look back over my life of work with the B747 and yes, I too am sad to see this beauty of the skies depart but it should now be an urgent lesson for our leaders to reflect upon especially at the moment. We are well aware of the effect that jolly virus is having upon everyone’s lives and lets face it political peace is not exactly “ticketyboo” in our region; – understandably from a financial aspect those huge 4 holers don’t excite the number crunchers but their exit from this region, (Oz), may well expose us all to a concerning and dangerous isolation and seriously, we will be at the mercy of our friends and neighbors who will be fully absorbed within their own communication problems to pay needed attention to us. When VH-OEJ departs our shores next week we will be devoid of a long range heavy lift/high pax load vehicle for our peoples use and safety. Forget the C17’s and MRTT’s etal as they have their specific and worthy tasks elsewhere. It is now very important for this country to expand it’s vision beyond it’s current focus of isolation and source an aircraft available now in order to cater for those urgent logistical needs that may occur, to that end I suggest a small fleet of B777-300ER’s should be the immediate focus for our countries safety and security of communications and, you don’t have to look too far in order to find 5 of the best available. For the sceptics amongst us, have a look across the ditch and see how much better off they are with aircraft type usage compared with us and according to Flt Radar 24 they are flying all about the pacific region now whilst we turn inwards. Time to wake up leaders!

  • Mike

    says:

    One Qantas 747-400 has a new life as a Rolls Royce Testbed

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