Have you ever wondered what is under the floor in a jumbo jet? How does sitting in the pilots seat for an hour sound? You can do all of this and more at the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society or the HARS Aviation Museum as they’re better known.
I recently had the opportunity to do their Boeing 747 Premium Tour, where three guides give you a tour of the aircraft that is second to none. You see virtually everything, both what passengers usually see and all the places they don’t.
Arriving at HARS
You can easily spy the Qantas jumbo as you walk up to HARS, as it is the largest plane on site. There is another jet at the entrance so everything is simple to find.
Upon arriving at HARS, we were immediately identified as the two people on the premium tour. After signing in, we were issued bright purple high vis jackets emblazoned with VIP Premium Tour and the tour began.
Exterior Tour of the Boeing 747
First off, a former Qantas engineer takes you all around the outside of the aircraft. Everything is pointed out, from the static ports to the refueling systems, so you get a comprehensive look at things.
Reverse thrust is set on an engine so you can see it in that configuration, plus you get to see the toilet servicing and much more. The guides intersperse the technical details with some fun stories they know, so it keeps you interested and amused.
How About A Cabin Tour?
You are handed off to a former Qantas Cabin Crew member who takes you on a tour inside the cabin. A highlight is going up in the crew rest area to see where cabin crew sleep. I thought it cool finding the black boxes located here.
Other things you get to do is to arm and disarm the doors, see how the galley and inflight entertainment works and of course, go upstairs to the Upper Deck. That’s where you can sit in one of the business class seats and try it out.
An Hour In The Cockpit
HARS Boeing 747 Premium Tour includes an hour in the cockpit with a former Qantas pilot. You sit right up front in the seats and your guide explains how things work and lets you work the various controls.
Really interesting was adjusting the weather radar, seeing the view from so high up and many other things. The whole flight deck is completely live and works just as it would in service, so it is some experience to be able to have an hour here.
The Bowels Of A Boeing 747
After touring the pilots haven, you are handed back to the ground engineer to climb up into the belly of the plane through the ground access hatch where the nose landing gear is.
In here you see one of the cargo holds, as well as the (very warm!) avionics bay computers. The nimble can scoot around up to where the weather radar is, under the cabin floor at the nose. Definitely unusual!
All the people working at HARS are volunteers and this includes the people who work in the Cafe. There is a pretty good menu available and I ordered a burger for lunch.
Happily the burger is cooked from scratch and it turned out to be very tasty. During lunch the guide for the tour of the other aircraft came by to say hello, which was nice.
Boeing 747 Wing Walk And Connie
Paying a little extra lets you go out on the wing of the Boeing 747 to see the plane from a unique vantage point. Not wanting to pass that up, we got into our safety gear and trundled out to experience that.
From there we went to look at the other planes in the HARS collection, including the only Lockheed Super Constellation still flying in the world. There are lots of military and civil aircraft to see, so there really is something for everyone.
You really can’t beat a day out at HARS, crawling all over a Boeing 747 and getting knowledge and stories from some excellent volunteers. The VIP tour costs A$195 (US$135, €120, £105), with the wing walk costing an additional A$45 per person.
HARS is located at Albion Park in New South Wales in Australia. This is approximately two hours by train from Sydney’s Central Station to Albion Park Rail. Happily the train journey is quite scenic so the time passes relatively quickly. The HARS Aviation Museum is about 10 minutes walk from the station.
Check out the HARS web site here for all the details. John Travolta is donating his ex-Qantas Boeing 707-138B to the organisation soon, so you will have another aircraft to visit when you go.
Have you ever visited HARS? What do you think of the experience, is it something you’d do or not? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.