Australia’s national airline Qantas bid farewell to the last Boeing 747-400 aircraft in its fleet, and to mark the occasion, the aircraft was used to carve a special message in the sky with its flight path. After taking off from the Sydney Airport for Los Angeles, the airline’s pilot charted a flight path to draw the company’s iconic kangaroo symbol in the sky.
The plane, that is bound for retirement in the Mojave Desert, drew the special sign before leaving Australian airspace.
“The final 747-400 in the fleet (registration VH-OEJ) will depart Sydney at 2pm as flight number QF7474, bringing to an end five decades of history-making moments for the national carrier and aviation in Australia,” the company said in a statement.
The airline’s 747s were first brought into operation in Australia 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, the company said in a statement.
“Its arrival – and its economics – made international travel possible for millions of people for the first time,” the company said.
Watch the special tribute here:
— Qantas (@Qantas) July 22, 2020
After nearly 50 years of service, the plane received a water cannon salute, before taking off to a big round of the applause from onlookers and aviation enthusiasts.
#LIVE: The last Qantas Boeing 747 jumbo jet is about to leave Australian skies for the final time.
— Nine News Sydney (@9NewsSyd) July 22, 2020
Qantas’s first woman Captain, Sharelle Quinn, who is in command of the final flight with a full cargo-load of freight said that the aircraft has a very special place in the hearts of the Qantas staff, aviation enthusiasts and travellers.
“I have flown this aircraft for 36 years and it has been an absolute privilege. From the Pope to pop stars, our 747’s have carried over 250 million people safely to their destinations. Over the decades, it’s also swooped in on a number of occasions to save Aussies stranded far from home,” she said.
People on social media tracked the special flight’s final journey and many used #QF7474 to bid farewell to the aircraft.
A good friend Hercules Demirgelis has spent 20,000 hours of his adult working life flying 747’s for @Qantas .
He flew the 3rd last flight.
Emotional day for him. I know he has loved and respected the aircraft & always felt it was a privilege.
Todays flight path. pic.twitter.com/19BRmZ7h97
— Russell Crowe (@russellcrowe) July 22, 2020
All those people wondering why Australians are getting soppy over a retiring aircraft. It goes hand in hand with living here, a REALLY long way from anywhere. That aircraft in particular brought the rest of the world just a little closer. #QF747 #QF7474
— Dr Darren Saunders (@whereisdaz) July 22, 2020
— Clifford1026 (@Clifford_Wang26) July 22, 2020
Qantas’ final 747 is heading for the plane graveyard in the Mojave Desert, but not before drawing a kangaroo in the sky.
— Craig Bratt (@craigybratt) July 22, 2020
— André Brett (@DrDreHistorian) July 22, 2020
— David (@gingertrvlguru) July 22, 2020
Just brilliant and what a way to fly out of Australia for the last time. 👍❤
— Carol Luvvie (@41c5ed111fd948b) July 22, 2020
— Priyanga Wijewardana (@askPriyanga) July 22, 2020
Awesome and sad. One of the greatest intercontinental plane on last journey. Last week BA retired Jumbo Jet, now Qantas. End of era.
— Normal is Boring (@anuchat73) July 22, 2020
— Sylvia Galli (@SylviaGalli) July 22, 2020
😢😢😢😭😭😭goodbye Queen of the sky🥺🥺
— Gert (@wildweasel34) July 22, 2020
Farewell!! I shed a tear at the thought of not flying on a 747 again today – they helped me find out what was out there in the world – a thought which seems even more bitter sweet now. Thanks to all the wonderful crews who have taken us around the world in these special planes!!!
— Leanne Togher (@LeanneTogher) July 22, 2020
In 1974, the 747s were used to rescue 674 people from the destruction caused by Cyclone Tracy in Darwin, while in 2011 they helped evacuate Australians from political unrest in Cairo, Egypt. In 2004, the aircraft was used to fly medical supplies following the tsunami in Asia.
The fleet’s last-ever rescue mission was to bring hundreds of Australians home during the coronavirus pandemic from the first epicentre of the virus, Wuhan in China, earlier this year.
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