QANTAS had arranged with the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) at the Illawarra Regional Airport near Wollongong two hours to the north of us to take delivery of a retired Boeing 747-400.
The plane is to be put on permanent display.
This might not sound such a big deal but the aircraft VH-OJA was the first 747-400 of the QANTAS fleet and holds the record for the world's longest ever non stop commercial flight from London to Sydney taking 20 hours, 9 minutes and 5 seconds in August 1989.
The other thing is the main runway at this airport is just 1819m long and 30m wide and is normally used for light aircraft.
No large commercial jet aircraft let alone a jumbo has landed there before.
|Photos: Illawarra Mercury|
The four crew, with over 50,000 hours of flying experience behind them, spent more than 25 hours in a flight simulator preparing for the tight landing.
All precautions were taken to prevent any damage to the runway eg. light fuel load, reduced tyre pressure, lower than normal approach speed.
The flight from Sydney took just 15 minutes and landed safely to the cheers of thousands of people who had gathered to watch the event.
Normally when aircraft are retired, QANTAS sends them to the Californian desert where they are sold or scrapped for parts.
HARS is home to the largest collection of both flying and static heritage aircraft in Australia, including an old QANTAS Lockheed Super Constellation.