Goodbye in the air: the last 747 flight from Qantas leaves Sydney for LA after the iconic plane was forced into retirement due to coronavirus – as the pilot leaves a brilliant final message
- The last flight of the Qantas 747 left on Wednesday after an early retirement
- The iconic plane had to retire early because of the COVID-19 crisis
- On the way to California, the plane created the Qantas kangaroo on the flight radar
The last Qantas 747 flight ever took off from Sydney on Wednesday, ending an important chapter in Australian aviation history.
On his last trip to Los Angeles for storage in the desert, the Boeing pilot flew a kangaroo-shaped flight path off the east coast of Australia.
Qantas’ Boeing 747 retired six months ahead of schedule due to the global COVID-19 crisis.
The very last Qantas 747 flight created the airline’s iconic kangaroo logo on its path out of the country on Wednesday (photo) as a farewell to Australia
Qantas director Alan Joyce said it was ‘hard to overestimate’ the impact of the 747 (photo) on aviation and specifically Australia
Qantas received his first 747 in August 1971, the same year that William McMahon became Prime Minister and Australia welcomed his first McDonald’s.
It is remembered as the plane that has made international travel financially possible for millions of people.
Due to their size, range and reliability, the 747s were also used for disaster rescue missions such as Cyclone Tracy in 1974 and the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004.
Qantas director Alan Joyce said the fleet heralded a new era of lower fares and nonstop flights.
“It’s hard to overestimate the impact of the 747 on aviation and a country as far as Australia,” Joyce said in a statement on Wednesday.
“This plane was way ahead of its time and extremely capable.
“(It) brought international travel within reach of the average Australian, and people took the opportunity.”
The airline’s first female captain, Sharelle Quinn, was one of six pilots in command of the last flight – who had nothing else on board – saying it had been an ‘absolute privilege’ every 747s for 36 years to control.
The airline’s first female captain, Sharelle Quinn, (pictured left), one of six pilots in command of the last flight, said it was sad to see the plane take off, but it was the right time
“It has been a wonderful part of our history, a truly groundbreaking plane,” said Quinn.
“Although we are sad to see our last one go, it is time to transfer to the next generation of aircraft that are a lot more efficient.”
Another pilot on the historic flight, Greg Fitzgerald, said he would say goodbye to that particular plane bought by Qantas 17 years ago.
“Everyone in Australia, everyone in the world knows the shape of the 747,” he told ABC Radio on Wednesday before the start.
“It’s like Airplane Jelly and Vegemite – it’s always been there. We don’t know life without the 747 in the air. ‘
The aircraft completed a flyby from Sydney Harbor and a low-level overflight from the HARS Aviation Museum in Wollongong, where Qantas’ first 747 is stored, before sailing across the Pacific towards America.
Aviation enthusiasts (pictured) turned out to say goodbye to the last flight out of Sydney as the plane leaves for California for storage and breakdown in the desert