Qantas’s last passenger jumbo jet, the Boeing 747, has departed Australia for the final time, with the “Queen of the Skies” leaving one last flourish drawing a kangaroo over the Pacific Ocean.
- The Boeing 747 was decommissioned amid COVID-19 disruption
- The last flight departed Sydney bound for a Los Angeles boneyard today
- Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said it had seen the highs and lows of history
Flight QF7474 flew out from Sydney Airport on Wednesday afternoon and provided entertainment to hundreds of plane spotters.
The jumbo jet is headed to retirement in the Mojave Desert in the United States, after Qantas brought forward the scheduled retirement of the fleet by six months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
There were plenty of tears at the 747’s farewell ceremony at Sydney Airport, with video tributes and poem recitals for the aircraft that has served Australians for almost 50 years.
The 747 left behind a message in the sky for keen watchers.(Supplied)
Noel Taylor, one of the oldest living former Qantas employees at the age of 94, said he was sad to see the aircraft go.
“I was enthralled with aeroplanes before I was a teenager I was always interested in aviation,” he said.
“When I look at pictures of 747 and look at the A380, it’s like chalk and cheese, the size.”
Noel’s son, Peter Taylor, also became a Qantas engineer and remembers the aircraft fondly.
“We grew up with the airplane. On holidays, for as long as I can remember, it was the only airplane that took us around the world,” he said.
“When you were heading home, it was your first little bit of Australia, no matter where you were when you stepped on board.”
Noel Taylor (left) signed his name on the plane, while his son Peter had fond memories of flying as a child.(ABC News)
Employees and attendees of the farewell ceremony waved Qantas flags as they bid farewell to the jumbo jet to the tune of I Still Call Australia Home.
Last week, the plane did a brief farewell tour, with three joy flights for diehard fans operating out of Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said he was emotional to say goodbye to the 747, a fleet that had seen the highs and lows of Australian history.
Qantas waves goodbye to 747
Qantas’s last 747 plane left Australia today, marking the event with a special flyover at Shellharbour Airport, a nod to the history of the plane.
“It’s brought the Queen in, it’s brought the Pope in, it’s been there for every Olympics team since the 1984 Olympics,” he said.
The 747 service has also rescued Bali bombing survivors and Australian residents trapped in Wuhan when the COVID-19 pandemic began.
“It’s a bittersweet moment this aircraft has changed world aviation, Australian aviation and Qantas,” Mr Joyce said.