Qantas pulled a surprise on the evening of its 100th birthday when one of its 787s flew over Sydney Harbour at low altitude and ‘blew out’ candles illuminating the Harbour Bridge.
The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, VH-ZNJ msn 66074, departed Sydney Airport at 6:61pm as flight QF100 and flew south to Shellharbour where HARS Aviation Museum was holding a black-tie dinner in celebration, before heading north again.
The stunt was a collaboration between Qantas and Destination NSW and involved lighting up the Harbour Bridge with 1,300 LED tubes, 126 LED fixtures and 38 searchlights.
Organisers also projected 60 historic images and two, 65-metre-high birthday candles onto the southern and northern pylons, which were ‘extinguished’ as the plane flew over at 1,500 feet.
Almost 200 passengers, including 100 of the airline’s staff, were on board the 100-minute flight, which also flew over Sydney’s Rose Bay where its iconic flying boats were used in the 1930s and 40s.
The 787-9 used, VH-ZNJ, is fast building a reputation as the star of the airline’s fleet as it’s decorated in a special Qantas 100 livery and was the same aircraft that flew direct between Sydney and London last year.
“It’s been a tough year for tourism but as more domestic borders open up, we’re ready to put more aircraft back in the air and bring people to see all that New South Wales has to offer.”
To mark the occasion, the Qantas Founders Museum yesterday held morning tea with a birthday cake, guided tours of the National Heritage-listed Qantas Hangar and a “Curator Talk”.
The attraction itself only reopened on 1 July after shutting earlier in the year due to coronavirus restrictions.
Australian Aviation previously reported how the museum’s new light show exhibition, celebrating Qantas’ centenary, launched on 1 July after a series of delays.
The ‘Luminescent Longreach’ display projects a 3D animation across 635 square metres of a Boeing 747. The project’s design was the result of an 11,000-hour creative process.
The show tells the history of Qantas using 3D animation, projection mapping and 360-degree immersive sound.
Meanwhile, HARS Aviation Museum in NSW celebrated Qantas’ centenary with a black-tie dinner in Hangar 1 surrounded by historic aircraft.
The museum said proceeds from the tickets will go towards helping to deliver a 707-138 donated by John Travolta from Georgia in the US to Sydney next year.
Surrounding the tables for eight were historic museum aircraft including the world’s only flying Lockheed Super Constellation, a Convair, the Douglas DC-3 that made the first passenger flight for TAA back in 1946, and a DC-4 resplendent in Qantas 1950s livery.
“Around the world, Qantas is probably best known for its safety record, endurance flying and long list of aviation firsts,” said Joyce.
“But for Australians, there’s nothing quite like seeing the flying kangaroo at the airport, waiting to take you home. We hope to be doing a lot more of that in the months and years ahead.”
Give the gift of aviation this Christmas! Sign up an aviator to the Australian Aviation magazine for breaking news, market intelligence and in-depth analysis. Tick one gift off your list and subscribe today from $49.95.