Qantas’ retired 747s face an evening of 80km/h gale-force winds in their final resting place of the Mojave desert boneyard.
The storage facility’s director of public safety sent out an alert on Tuesday after the US National Weather Service issued a wind advisory to the airport.
The agency, the American equivalent of BOM, cites winds of 80km/h as being a “high threat to life and property”.
Mojave Air and Space Port is located in the California desert about 150 kilometres north of LA. First opened in 1935 as a rural airfield serving local gold miners, it’s grown into one of the world’s most notable boneyards.
Over the last decade, Qantas has sent nine 747-400s there in total, including five apparently sold to General Electric in 2020: VH-OEE, VH-OEG, VH-OEH, VH-OEI and VH-OEJ (click the links to see the final flights).
New owners Kalitta Air has told Australian Aviation it purchased the 19-year-old jet, formerly registered as VH-OEJ, for spare parts to aid the maintenance of its existing 747 fleet.
Formerly registered to the Flying Kangaroo as VH-OEJ, the jet is now registered as N329ZA.
The Michigan-based cargo carrier currently has a fleet of 24 active Boeing 747s, including the last 747-400 ever built by Boeing, registration N782CK, plus the ex-Qantas airframe, which is formally ‘parked’. According to the FAA registry, the jet’s US registration is valid through 31 May 2025.
VH-OEJ was the last of six Boeing 747-438ERs that Qantas ordered in 2001 and the final 747 to be delivered to the airline.
OEJ, named ‘Wunala Dreaming’, was also the final Boeing 747 to be farewelled from the airline after the COVID-19 pandemic sped up the airline’s planned retirement of its iconic 747 fleet.
After 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.
As she made her way across the Pacific, Captain Quinn took the opportunity to honour the final Qantas 747 flight by drawing a 275-kilometre by 250-kilometre Qantas Kangaroo in the sky. Hundreds of thousands of Twitter and Instagram users shared Qantas’ official post of the stunt.
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.