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Qantas first 747-400 to make an amazing last flight into history

Crikey, 29 January 2015

The first Qantas 747-400, which has held, since 1989, the title for the longest unrefueled flight commercial airliner flight between London and Sydney, is set to make what may be the world’s shortest ever delivery flight, from Sydney to Albion Park just south of Wollongong.

It will land at its final destination, the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) facility at the spectacular and hill bound airport, which has never had a 747 landing, and will, most assuredly, never ever see a 747 takeoff, on a day to be determined by the weather forecasts early in March.

There will be more anoraks (plane spotters) at vantage points along this sensational Final final approach than there are in the entire Kathmandu outdoors clothing franchise worldwide.

The last flight of this 747, VH-OJA and named by Qantas the City of Canberra, should last about ten minutes. Special training is being undertaken for the demanding approach and landing. The official handover of the jet will be on 15 March, to coincide with a HARS open day.

VH-OJA only recently retired from active service with Qantas.

Qantas group Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce said it was important for such an iconic aircraft to be on display as a reminder of the role Qantas has played in aviation history.

“Qantas has been responsible for a lot of aviation firsts and many of them have centred on endurance and reliability. The record breaking flight of this Boeing aircraft was a technical and symbolic achievement because it showed what was possible with the latest generation of aircraft and that spirit of innovation still drives us today.

“We are excited that by gifting this newly retired aircraft to the HARS museum, we’re helping create a local tourism attraction as well as preserving a bit of our past.”

Bob De La Hunty, President of the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society, said HARS is delighted to be part of preserving a remarkable piece of modern aviation history.

“All our volunteers, including many former Qantas employees, are overwhelmed by the opportunity to showcase such a historic aircraft. We expect it to attract lots of attention together with our Lockheed Super Constellation, both of which were integral in building Qantas’ international reputation.”

HARS has worked hard to secure the first Qantas 747-400 for its already astonishing collection of restored historic aircraft. This includes a restored Lockheed Super Constellation that does, occasionally, fly in and out of Albion Park, making for a stunning sight and sound every time this happens.