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John Travolta to deliver vintage Qantas 707 to Wollongong

August 1, 2019 Headline News No Comments Email Email

In a feat likely to attract worldwide attention, Hollywood star John Travolta will use a special flight permit to personally deliver to a museum in Wollongong the last Boeing 707 ever to serve in the Qantas fleet.

The plane, still in vintage Qantas “flying kangaroo” livery, will be flown to Australia and donated to the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) at Albion Park airport to the south of Wollongong, to become a tourist attraction.

Boeing’s 707, the first jetliner to be commercially successful, effectively brought jet travel to the world. Boeing Commercial Airplanes manufactured the mid-sized, long-range, narrow-body, four-engine jet airliner in the USA from 1958 to 1979.

Sixty years ago this week, on 29 July 1959, Qantas became the first airline outside the US to fly the Boeing 707, with service from Sydney to San Francisco.

Travolta, 65, is a well-known ambassador for Qantas. He owns the 707 personally, having bought it in 1998. As a keen pilot and lover of aircraft, he has set aside time this November to deliver the 707 to Australia.

 

Travolta has a pilot’s licence – including for major jets – and has been flying for over 45 years.

Here below is a good brief clip (one minute) showing Travolta landing his plane at London Gatwick airport.

 

While Travolta has flown his 707 extensively, he is unlikely to fly the plane when it lands in Australia. The ABC reports that the 707 handover will involve registering it as an Australian aircraft – which means Travolta will not be allowed to take the controls as he originally hoped, unless some special dispensation is made.

Instead, the 707 will be piloted by an experienced crew from HARS.

The Advertiser, an Illawarra community newspaper, recently interviewed the team of five men, all with Qantas backgrounds, who will soon fly to Georgia to familiarise themselves with Travolta’s 707, before helping the actor fly it back to Australia.

John Travolta’s Boeing 707

All five enjoyed long careers with Qantas before retiring. They include Reg Darwell, who joined Qantas as an office boy in 1958 before training as a pilot and working as a second officer and navigator on Lockheed Constellations. Darwell has actually flown Travolta’s 707 already – for Qantas, when the plane was in service with the Australian airline back in the late 1960s.

Travolta donated the plane to HARS two years ago, but its flight to Australia was delayed.

Travolta’s house doubles as an airport

Travolta is said to be very passionate about his 707 and is confident HARS will give the vintage jet the loving care it needs.

Written by Peter Needham

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