The end of an era, leaving tears in aviation lover’s eyes. On Wednesday, 22nd of July, Qantas retired its last Being 747. After a long career, the “Queen of the Skies” has met her final resting place in the Mojave Desert in the US.
A sad day for aviation
For some, it may be just a plane, a machine that takes them from A to B. For many, like myself, she was the Queen of the Skies. Her lines were gracious, like a beautiful swan flying in the sky. If you are lucky to live close to an airport and have seen her taking off or landing you will know what I am talking about. Yes, she is quite noisy, we know when she is about to leave just by hearing the roar of her 4 engines. She is quite a beast, and for decades she ruled the skies.
The Queen of the Skies has a military origin. The idea came from a plan to build a large transport for the military, the aim was to build an aircraft with a large nose loading door. Boeing lost the contract, but the idea remained and when Pan AM approached them to build a larger passenger aircraft, to deal with the increasing number of passengers in airports, improve congestion levels and service, they couldn’t say no to one of their best clients at the time.
In 1965, a team started working on that plane, developing that initial military idea, but giving it a new name, Boeing 747, the Queen was born. On the 9th of February 1969, she made her maiden voyage. It was the start of an era.
Qantas has also been a good client of Boeing’s. The airline’s need for an aircraft that is suitable for its long-haul flights, made the 747 the preferred option for decades. It’s first 747-238, VH-EBA, which was named City of Canberra, made its first flight from Sydney to Singapore on the 17th of September 1971. It carried 55 first-class and 239 economy passengers. The airline was so satisfied with the aircraft, that in 1979 it was declared the first airline to operate an all Boeing 747 fleet. The Queen helped the airline break records and gain a great reputation.
I was lucky enough to make the trip from Sydney to London in one of Qantas Boeing 747-400 and it was an amazing experience. I know I am a bit biased because I love this aircraft, but that flight combined the great Qantas service and safety standards with a great aircraft. I have done the trip back and forward with British Airways many times, another of my favourite airlines, and I also loved it. She is the mix between strength and power, and graciousness and style, that is why she is the Queen.
The end of an era
Qantas ended its 747 era. On the 22nd of July, the last Queen, a Boeing 747- 400, VH-OEJ, named Wunala, made her last trip from Sydney to the Mojave desert. Flight 7474 was scheduled to depart Sydney Airport at 2 pm, do a last fly over the beautiful Sydney Harbour, the northern and eastern suburbs beaches, then fly over Albion Park, where is the HARS Museum, where the first 747-400, VH-OJA is preserved. She said goodbye to her sister and all of us. On the way, she still had a little treat for us, If we looked at the flight radar, we would see her drawing our flying kangaroo in the skies. A teary moment that was.
She will leave lots of beautiful memories in those who had the privilege of flying with her. I certainly do.