It’s been an emotional afternoon for aviation enthusiasts, with the last Qantas 747 jumbo jet flying out of Australian skies for the final time.
The “Queen of the Skies” took off from Sydney Airport at 2pm on Wednesday as flight number QF7474, bringing to an end five decades of history-making moments for the national carrier and aviation in Australia.
The much-loved aircraft treated Sydney-siders to one final farewell, performing a flyby of Sydney Harbour and Bondi Beach before flying over the HARS Aviation museum, where Qantas’ first 747-400 remains on display.
ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER THIS ADVERTISEMENT
She’s now flying over the Pacific Ocean on her way to the Mojave desert in the United States for retirement.
Qantas took delivery of its first 747 in August 1971, the same year that William McMahon became Prime Minister and the first McDonald’s opened in Australia, making international travel possible for millions of people for the first time.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the 747 ushered in a new era of lower fares and non-stop flights.
“It’s hard to overstate the impact that the 747 had on aviation and a country as far away as Australia,” Mr Joyce said.
“This aircraft was well ahead of its time and extremely capable.
“It replaced the 707, which was a huge leap forward in itself but didn’t have the sheer size and scale to lower airfares the way the 747 did. That put international travel within reach of the average Australian and people jumped at the opportunity.”
Qantas’s first female Captain, Sharelle Quinn, was one of six pilots in command of the final flight and said the aircraft has a very special place in the hearts of not just Qantas staff, but also aviation enthusiasts and travellers.
“I have flown this aircraft for 36 years and it has been an absolute privilege,” Captain Quinn said.
“It has been a wonderful part of our history, a truly ground breaking aircraft and while we are sad to see our last one go, it’s time to hand over to the next generation of aircraft that are a lot more efficient.”