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Qantas raids 747 in Mojave boneyard to recreate 1970s upstairs lounge

written by Adam Thorn | April 21, 2021
Qantas 747 upstairs lounge was last shown off in its pre-COVID safety video, unveiled in February 2020 (Qantas)

Qantas has taken original wall panels from one of its retired 747-200s stored in the Mojave desert boneyard to recreate the aircraft’s 1970s upstairs lounge.

The custom-made replica will be displayed at the Qantas Founders Museum and showcases the 1970s first-class hangout where 15 first-class passengers could drink a cocktail or smoke a cigar.

The airline said fabrics and bold colours of the decade have been “meticulously recreated” to match the originals.

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Accessed via a spiral staircase, the exclusive retreat was eventually phased out in 1979 and replaced with business class seating.

Qantas Founders Museum CEO Tony Martin said, “We are excited to be able to showcase this new exhibit within the Museum which will be able to take aviation and travel enthusiasts on a walk down memory lane for generations to come.”

Qantas donated funds raised from the 747 retirement joy flights in 2020 to help cover installation costs for the installation that will feature in the main exhibition hall.

It will feature alongside the original 1970s uniform by Emilio Pucci and onboard products from the era including menus, silverware and crockery.

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The attraction itself, in Longreach, only reopened on 1 July 2020 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 shortly afterwards.

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.

Qantas sold its last 747, VH-OEJ, along with five others to General Electric in 2019 and its last-known location was in the Mojave Desert boneyard.

The airport, technically IATA: MHV, is located within the Mojave Air and Space Port and has been storing aircraft since the 1970s.

The location is preferred by airlines for storage – either temporary or permanent – because the 49-degree temperatures prevent rust and precipitation can be as low as just 130mm a year.

Little has been reported as to exactly what General Electric Co plans to do with the Qantas 747s.

VH-OEJ’s final journey in July 2020 included an emotional take-off to the tune of I Still Call Australia Home.

First-leg captain Sharelle Quinn flew the aircraft over Sydney’s CBD, Harbour and beaches before heading to the HARS Museum, where she dipped its wings in a final salute to the first 747-400 housed at the attraction, VH-OJA.

Then, unexpectedly, Quinn drew a 275-kilometre x 250-kilometre Qantas Kangaroo in the sky.

Hundreds of thousands of Twitter and Instagram users shared Qantas’ official post of the stunt, with many more likely to have also shared similar pictures and animations of the journey.

When it finished, VH-OEJ climbed to cruising altitude and headed for Los Angeles, where it touched down at 1:23pm after 15 hours in the air.

The two final trips followed three special flights for customers departing the week before in Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra.

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

Aside from Qantas, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and KLM all announced plans to fast-forward the retirement of their 747s.

14 Comments

  • Rocket

    says:

    Where’s Longread????

  • Mr Norman King

    says:

    A swivel staircase and Longread? Julian Green would have had pups were he to read this, bless him.

  • Steve

    says:

    Slight typo there, Adam!! Longreach, not “Longread”… Although I guess you could have had a long read when you cross the Pacific in one of those! Looking for a full apology on the next podcast ep! Ha ha! I’m sure Boo will insist…

  • SL

    says:

    At least 2 errors i can see that should be fixed (cosmetic and grammar but still relevant).

    1) There is no place called “Longread” , its Longreach.
    2) it reads as if Qantas sold 5 aircraft to GE but is that correct. I believe it was only 1 , but i could be wrong.

  • Scott Melton

    says:

    The true Golden Age of flying! A good friend of mine remembers working in the Captain Cook Lounge as a flight attendant in the day.

  • Vannus

    says:

    Marvellous idea!
    It was a wonderful way to fly, in the ‘Captain Cook Lounge’.

    It was so quiet, that you were unaware of the numbers’ of fellow passengers’ below you.
    It generated a real ‘club’ atmosphere, with folk chatting happily.

    Might take a flight to see it…..again!

  • Gordon Bartley

    says:

    VH-EBA first QF 747-238B landed SYD on a very memorable day for all us in QF…at one stage an all 747 airline..shame about the rego’s..used to be all EA EB EC..etc..guess the bean counters don’t care too much about maintaining some sort of history or am I a bit cynical..G

    • Warwick

      says:

      Yes, Gordon, I remember this aircraft low-flying over my home city!
      It was wonderful see, & sooo big!
      Beautiful, majestic ‘lady of the skies’ IMHO.
      Loved flying on them!

      QANTAS was the ONLY Airline to ever have just a Boeing 747 fleet.

      Certainly the ‘70’s was the best age of air travel.

  • Scott

    says:

    Norm King – now there is a name that is significant to the history of Qantas. Norm knows a spiral staircase when he sees one.

  • Peter Thomas

    says:

    Historically there are many things not accurately represented in this display. It’s all reproductions from photos..

  • BT

    says:

    If only Qantas could also find some cabin crew from the 1970s that actually had some manners. Unlike the ultra rude one’s the have had for the last 20+ years!

  • Arlys Baker

    says:

    The world is not the same without 747’s. For staff, they paid our mortgage, educated our kids, and put fuel in the car. We will never forget them, as they take their place amongst the greatest aircraft, The Spitfire, the DC3, and now the B747. Hail the Queen.

  • Jack Van Duyn

    says:

    When you worked up here as a Flight Attendant you were known as the fiddler on the roof

  • Ian Dixon

    says:

    Well the hell is Longread?
    As mentioned at the start of your story?

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