Ever wondered what the view is like from the pilot seat of a Boeing 747 or wanted to see inside the cargo hold?
The Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) is attracting plenty of interest in a new personal tour being run by a former Qantas pilot, engineer and crew member.
The exclusive VH-OJA Boeing 747 personally guided experience has only just begun but demand is already very high. It involves being briefed on every aspect of the massive airliner now based at Illawarra Regional Airport. It includes information about its record breaking flight non-stop from London to Sydney.
Retired QANTAS Captain Sandy Howard, engineer Greg Stevenson and flight attendant Sally McConachy are among those rostered on helping HARS with the tours.
They start with a pre-flight inspection before climbing on board and learning about a flight attendants tasks from their perspective.
Having armed and cross-checked the doors and prepared the cabin for take-off they are treated like VIPs and climb upstairs and onto the flight deck to be cleared for take-off. They are shown the captains seat before running through the pre-start check list and engine start procedure. The instrument panel is powered and lit up so those they get to witness everything.
“I flew this aircraft 18 times over nine years,” Captain Howard said. “It is good to be able to share with people an aspect of what you do when you are actually flying the machine. These days now with the post 911 restrictions on visitors to the flight decks people are far removed now from the operation of the airplane. So it is nice to be able to share some of the intimacies of operating the aircraft in general and what you do in terms of flying big machines like this. It is not just flying. There is a whole lot more that goes on. When we do the personalised tours the guests get an hour each with an engineer, a pilot and a flight attendant like Sally.”
Ms McConachy was a flight attendant for 26 years and now lives in the Shoalhaven. “I love doing this. Once you have been part of Qantas it is in your blood. I flew on the plane many times. People like anything and everything and like stories of things that have happened on board. And they love seeing areas they have never seen,” she said.
Mr Stevenson was head of engine turbine balancing with Qantas and loves sharing his knowledge. “A lot of people get a shock when I start telling them things. It is great to be able to do these tours. I am having the time of my life.”
Coordinator Doug Philpott said the tour lasted three hours. The exclusive tours run monthly. Details about Wings Over Illawarra inside Weekender today.
Jumbo tour bookings on 4257 4333.