Fifty-years ago, test pilot Jack Waddell was at the controls as the first Jumbo Jet flew high over the Pacific coast of the United States.
“Rather majestic, you might say?”, he called in over radio.
The year was 1969 – and air travel was about to change forever.
If you’ve ever flown internationally with Qantas, chances are you would have done so on a Boeing 747.
The four-engine, twin-aisle, wide-body, double-storey jet has been a beloved member of the Qantas fleet since we first took delivery of one in 1971.
The Jumbo was such a good fit that we were operating an all-747 fleet ten years later.
We’ve flown almost every type of the 747 over the years, from the Special Performance series (a smaller, sportier edition) to the 747-400ER (an extended range aircraft that allowed us to fly non-stop across the Pacific).
But all good things must come to an end.
The 747, and its distinctive hump-shaped upper deck, is becoming a rarer site at airports around the world, and a new generation of twin engine aircraft is taking its place.
This changing of the guard is bittersweet for avgeeks, but fewer engines means less maintenance and lower fuel costs.
We’ll never forget the Jumbo, though.
It carried the flying kangaroo for decades.
It well-and-truly put Qantas on the map as a major global airline.
And most importantly, it made international travel so much more comfortable and affordable for passengers.
It’s a legacy that the more efficient aircraft taking its place will continue.
Check out this ad from the 1970s.