Qantas 747-400 VH-OJA lands at Illawarra Regional Airport

A STUNNING Autumn morning and thousands of spectators welcomed the Qantas VH-OJA to its new home at the Illawarra Regional Airport on Sunday.

The record breaking 747-400, known as the City of Canberra,  is being donated to the Historic Aircraft Restoration Society.

Captain Greg Matthews - the pilot in command on the 15 minute flight from Mascot to the Albion Park Rail - said the flight and landing at the small airport went according to plan.

‘‘All the plans we put in place to make this landing as routinely as possible all worked very well for us,’’ Captain Matthews said.

The aircraft touched down at the Illawarra Regional Airport ‘‘just after’’ 7.47am.

‘‘Conditions in Sydney were fine, it was a beautiful night in Sydney last night and I was glad to hear there were blue skies and calm winds in the Illawarra,’’ Captain Matthews said.

‘‘There were a few delays leaving Sydney, but we did our best to make good that arrival time.’’

Captain Matthews said the flight was ‘‘a bit sentimental’’

‘‘But we know the aircraft will be well maintained by HARS and we know it will be looked after as a great tourist attraction.’’

One of four pilots charged with delivering the Qantas 747-400 to the Illawarra Regional Airport on Sunday morning was Michael East.

The last time the former University of Wollongong student touched down at the Illawarra Regional Airport it was behind the controls of a single-engine four-seater.

On Sunday morning he was on a 400 seat aircraft - albeit 400 empty passenger seats.

‘‘The flight this morning went off perfectly, it was beautiful day and I am elated and thrilled to be part of it,’’ the second officer said.‘‘It was perfect conditions, few clouds and a light breeze.

‘‘Coming out of Sydney we had the fire trucks give us a water cannon salute and that was spectacular and coming down the coast it was beautiful.‘‘We were blown away so many people came out to see it.

‘‘On approach there were thousands of people lining the runway with cameras flashing away ... it was a very special moment.

‘‘HARS is fitting place for the aircraft to spend it is life, it is a historic aircraft.

‘‘It will be on for display generations to come and will be a great tourist attraction.’’The 34-year-old said after months of planning it is back to regular duties this week.

‘‘Tokyo this week is my next adventure,’’ he said.

‘‘This has been going on for a few months, Qantas has hundreds of people working on this in all different departments so a huge thank you goes out to them.

‘‘A lot of work has gone into making this happen today.’’

Source: Illawarra Mercury

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