In December 2006 Qantas’s very first jet airliner flew into Sydney after a flight of 14,382 nautical miles from Southend-on-Sea in England. The Boeing 707-138 VH-EBA first flew in 1959 and had ended its days in England where it was to be scrapped. A team of retired Qantas engineers led by Peter Elliott decided that the aircraft would fly home again to Australia to be put on display at the Qantas Founders Museum at Longreach in Queensland. This was the most complex restoration of a classic airliner ever undertaken involving 15,000 man hours. Over a six month period engineers and spare parts were shuttled back and forth between England and Australia. Working in all sorts of weather the engineers finally saw the aircraft fly again for the first time in six years. In Orlando Florida the team was greeted by Hollywood star John Travolta who owns another of Qantas’s 707-138s.
This is a story about a great aeroplane but also about the dedication and resolve of the people who made her fly again. After the most complex restoration of a classic airliner ever undertaken, in December 2006 Qantas’ very first jet airliner flew into Sydney after a 14,382 nautical mile flight from Southend, England.