Taken: 17 July 2020.
Notes: It snowed in Canberra today, but this time last year VH-OEJ sailed into YSCB on clear wintery skies. As the last remaining Boeing 747 in the Qantas fleet, Wunala, a 747-438ER, made its first revenue service in 2003. She was the 57th and last Boeing 747 delivered to Qantas.
The first 747 passenger flight was on January 22, 1970. Qantas first operated a Boeing 747-238B (VH-EBA, City of Canberra) in 1971. The aircraft revolutionised air travel - it had the capacity to carry more than double the number of passengers of previous passenger aircraft, bringing the price of travel down significantly. But with the arrival of newer, more-fuel efficient aircraft, Qantas phased the Queen of the Skies out with a final passenger trip from Canberra airport to the Snowy Mountains and back to Canberra with a pass over Lake Burley Griffin.
On board, the force of four General Electric GE CF6-80C2B5 engines pressed our backs against the seats. In the air, we watched the Snowy Mountains unfold under the heft of the left wing. We banked steeply for a clear view of Mt Kosciuszko. The earth peaked and flattened in impossible folds of detail and obscurity. Houses began to dot back into view and we tracked back across Canberra. Returning to land we were met with a water canon salute. Staff hugged each other tearfully, bidding Wunala farewell.
By the time it arrived at the Mojave boneyard, VH-OEJ had flown 77,441 hours with 7,145 cycles. She rests with her sister ships, her exact fate still uncertain.