Another Queen bites the dust: Qantas retires last 747

Thiago B Trevisan,

The July 22, 2020 marks the official end of the Boeing 747 era for Qantas Airways as their Queen of the Skies is set to complete her final journey over the Pacific Ocean (flight number QF7474), signifying the conclusion to her almost-50-year reign.

The Boeing 747-438 Wunala Dreaming (Wunala meaning Kangaroo in the Yanyuwa language), registration VH-OEJ, took off from Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport (SYD) where it carried out a last kangaroo-shaped fly-by. The appropriately named flight QF7474 will take the aircraft to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) before it will be sent to storage in the Mojave Desert, at the Mojave Air and Space Port (MHV).

For its ultimate flight, the Queen of the Skies is flown by Qantas’ first female captain, Sharelle Quinn. “I have flown this aircraft for 36 years and it has been an absolute privilege,” the pilot said to local news.

Flight QF7474 can be followed on flightradar24.

When it was delivered to Qantas in August 1971, the Boeing 747 marked the beginning of the non-stop trans-Pacific flights. “It overcame the tyranny of distance that was and continued to be an issue for Australia,” Qantas Chief Executive Alan Joyce told his employees reunited for the final flight.

“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,” Joyce said on a different occasion. 

Over the years, Qantas operated six different 747 models differing in their capabilities and sizes, making the Queen one of the most beloved and iconic aircraft for both the staff and travelers alike. However, “Time has overtaken the 747 and we now have a much more fuel efficient aircraft with even better range in our fleet,” he added.


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