John Travolta owns a former Qantas Boeing 707-138B which he uses as a private jet and this aircraft is the last Boeing 707-138B produced. The aircraft first flew on 1 September 1964 and operated its first service from Sydney to Tokyo on 2 October of the same year.
Today it is announced that the aircraft will be donated to the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) based in Albion Park. This will mean both the first and last Qantas 707-138B aircraft will be on display in Australia.
Who Are HARS?
HARS are a non-profit society that restore and fly historic aircraft in Australia. They are perhaps most famous for the restoration of a Lockheed Constellation which remains in flying condition for air shows.
Qantas donated their first Boeing 747-400 VH-OJA to the organisation in 2015. This is the first Boeing 747-400 on public display and holds the record for longest non-stop delivery flight. The organisation also has a Catalina and a number of other historic aircraft in flying condition.
Hollywood actor John Travolta is a pilot and aviation enthusiast and he became a Qantas Ambassador in 2002. At that time his former Qantas 707 was painted in its original 1960s V-Jet livery.
The aircraft is currently located in the United States and it is planned that a team from HARS will assist in restoring the aircraft to flying condition. After this, it will return to Australia.
John Travolta is “hoping to be part of the crew to fly the aircraft to Australia, supported by well qualified and experienced pilots and engineers.” You can read the full press release here.
The Boeing 707-138B
Just thirteen Boeing 707-138B aircraft were produced by Boeing. These aircraft are special to Qantas, being a shortened version of the standard Boeing 707.
The story goes that Qantas ordered the aircraft and then Boeing changed the specification of the baseline model which resulted in the economics being destroyed for the sectors Qantas planned to operate.
Negotiations with Boeing resulted in Qantas being given the aircraft they originally contracted for. This is an early example of Boeing working with their customers to deliver an aircraft that suited the specific airline.
It will be excellent to have this aircraft back in Australia and hopefully maintained in flying condition. The fact that both the first and the last Boeing 707-138B have survived is a miracle. Even better is how both will be in Australia – a fitting end to the story of this aircraft. Jet travel was introduced to Australia with these aircraft, so they deserve to be on display for future generations to enjoy.
There is an extensive web site called VH-JET#1 & Her Sisters which details the history of the Qantas Boeing 707s and I highly recommend giving it a visit. Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.
Featured image by Konstantin von Wedelstaedt via Wikimedia Commons.