After almost 50 years, the mighty Jumbo takes off into history books

A flight to America will mark the end of a significant chapter in Australia’s aviation history.

Jul 22, 2020, updated Jul 22, 2020

Qantas took delivery of its first 747 jumbo jet in August 1971, and will on Wednesday farewell the last remaining one in its fleet when flight number QF7474 departs Sydney at 2pm for Los Angeles.

The arrival of the Boeing 747, in the same year that William McMahon became prime minister and Australia welcomed its first McDonald’s, made international travel economically possible for millions of people.

Their size, range and reliability also meant the 747s were used for rescue missions after disasters such as Cyclone Tracy in 1974 and Boxing Day Tsunami in 2004.

Qantas chief executive officer Alan Joyce said the fleet ushered in a new era of lower fares and non-stop flights.

“It’s hard to overstate the impact the 747 had on aviation and a country as far away as Australia,” Joyce said in a statement on Wednesday.

“This aircraft was well ahead of its time and extremely capable.”

The airline’s first female captain, Sharelle Quinn, will be in command of the final flight, and said it had been an “absolute privilege” to fly the aircraft for 36 years.

“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,” Quinn said.


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