His plane is undamaged and John Travolta will still come to Wollongong after donating the Boeing 707 JT to the Historical Aviation Restoration Society (HARS) at Illawarra Regional Airport.
HARS chairman Bob De La Hunty said the aircraft was not impacted by Hurricane Irma and the timing of its arrival is now up to Travolta’s availability and maintenance work. “There is no problem with the aircraft. It’s in good shape.”
Mr De La Hunty said two engineers from HARS traveled to the United States to complete an inspection on the 707 just before the hurricane hit. Peter Elliott and Frank Bowden left earlier than originally planned but completed the paperwork analysis. “We will be looking at what we need to do with the aircraft and the timing and availability of the maintenance organisations. John Travolta’s availability also is a major factor because we definitely want to have him with us on the way back. We need to work around his movie schedule. We own the plane now because he has donated it to us. And we are including him very much in the whole exercise getting it here.”
HARS is covering the cost of flying the 707 to Australia and is presently raising sponsor funds. The fuel bill alone will be $250,000US. “We have to find some people to do some maintenance on the aircraft because it has not flown much in the last two years. It has been well looked after buy big airplanes need important maintenance. Qantas has granted us a licence to keep it in Qantas colours. And we need to make sure it is as good as any of Qantas’s fleet.”
Mr De La Hunty said HARS was fortunate to have a team of former Qantas engineers as members. And he has flown with Travolta before in another famous aircraft HARS keeps in service. “John Travolta has been out here a number of times with this particular aircraft. We used to take our Super Constellation up to join the photo shoots for public relations with Qantas. I took him with us on one of the trips up the coast in Connie and he actually got the opportunity to fly it as well. It was a good opportunity leading to the fact that ultimately when he decided it was time to part company with the 707 that he thought turning it over to us would be a good place for it to be preserved.”
Mr De La Hunty contacted Captain John Dennis when he heard Travolta was looking for a new home for the aircraft. He was appointed by Qantas to train him to fly the 707 and flew with him on a world friendship tour. They stayed in contact and a discussion between them resulted in HARS being chosen as the perfect home. Dennis is the project manager for the relocation. The maintenance will take about three months. Then it’s just a matter of when Travolta can make the trip to Albion Park.
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