Qantas 747 jumbo makes final farewell by painting a Kangaroo in the sky

After 49 years of service in Qantas, the Boeing 747 made its final bow. More than just a send-off ceremony, the skilled pilots of the aircraft did something more spectacular.

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Just above the coast of Australia after departing Sydney, the pilots maneuvered the aircraft drawing a picture of a Kangaroo, the iconic symbol of the airline. The aircraft then headed towards Los Angeles to drop some cargo and then will be flown to the Mojave Desert for its retirement.

The last 747 in the fleet with registry VH-OEJ did its last push-back at around 3:30pm local time

Qantas group CEO said, "It’s hard to overstate the impact that the 747 had on aviation and a country as far away as Australia. 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.

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“This aircraft was well ahead of its time and extremely capable. Engineers and cabin crew loved working on them and pilots loved flying them. So did passengers. They have carved out a very special place in aviation history and I know they’ll be greatly missed by a lot of people, including me.

“Time has overtaken the 747 and we now have a much more fuel efficient aircraft with even better range in our fleet, such as the 787 Dreamliner that we use on Perth-London and hopefully before too long, the Airbus A350 for our Project Sunrise flights non-stop to New York and London,” said Joyce.

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After take-off, the aircraft made rounds and fly-bys over Sydney Harbour before flying over at Wollongong. However, the aircraft did something, much to the surprise of spotters and spectators, which was to maneuver itself in order to draw a Kangaroo in the sky as a final farewell for 49 years in service.

49 years of 747 in Qantas

Qantas took delivery of its first 747 (a -200 series) in August 1971, the same year that William McMahon became Prime Minister, the first McDonalds opened in Australia and Eagle Rock by Daddy Cool topped the music charts. Its arrival – and its economics – made international travel possible for millions of people for the first time.

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Qantas has flown six different types of the 747, with Boeing increasing the aircraft’s size, range and capability over the years with the advent of new technology and engine types.

The fleet of 747 aircraft not only carried generations of Australians on their first overseas adventures, they also offered a safe voyage for hundreds of thousands of migrant families who flew to their new life in Australia on board a ‘roo tailed jumbo jet.

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Qantas 747s were at the forefront of a number of important milestones for the airline, including the first Business Class cabin of any airline in the world. Their size, range and incredible reliability meant they were used for numerous rescue missions: flying a record 674 passengers out of Darwin in the aftermath of Cyclone Tracy; evacuating Australians out of Cairo during political unrest in 2011 and flying medical supplies in and tourists home from the Maldives and Sri Lanka following the Boxing Day Tsunami in December 2004.

The last rescue missions the 747 flew for Qantas were to bring hundreds of stranded Australians home from the COVID-19 epicentre of Wuhan in February this year.

Attribution: Qantas News Room

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