Sixty years of Qantas jet flying

Published on 29th July 2019 at 15:58

You’ve got mail: There’s no online purchases in this bag post bag for the inaugrual 707 passenger service.

The year was 1959 when Australia joined the jet age after we took delivery of our first Boeing 707.

The four engine jet engine aircraft helped put Qantas on the world stage and provided a new level of passenger comfort.

Our first service took off from Sydney to San Francisco on 29 July 1959 flying via Fiji and Hawaii.

The aircraft’s pressurised cabin and powerful engines meant it could fly higher avoiding bad weather, resulting in a smoother journey.

At the time, we proudly promoted that the aircraft offered not one but two galleys including innovations such as a “coffee maker which produced 12 cups of coffee every three minutes”.

French cuisine was offered and inflight entertainment consisted of a deck of cards and it would be common for pretty much everyone on board to be smoking.

Motifs of Australian wildflowers decorated the side panels of the cabin with the ceiling featuring a starry representation of the Southern Hemisphere and Milky Way.

Boeing would go on to build a special Qantas version of the aircraft which was three metres shorter and fitted with more powerful engines allowing us to use shorter runways.

Some of the aircraft were fitted with a new and more powerful engine variant with turbo fans. These aircraft were called the V-Jets, from the Latin “vannus”, meaning fan.

One of our 707s was also famous for having a date with history when it operated parallel to the re-entry path of the Apollo 11 spacecraft.

Another is famous for going on to become the former private jet of actor and Qantas ambassador John Travolta.

And while there’s no longer any Qantas 707s flying, you can take a seat onboard our very first of the type, VH-EBA at the Qantas Founders Museum in Longreach.