Qantas recreates its first flight 100 years on

Qantas recreates its first flight 100 years on

One hundred years after the first customer and bag of letters winged its way across the Queensland outback, Qantas and Australia Post will today follow the flightpath to recreate the historic airmail and passenger service from 1922.

To mark the historic occasion, family members of Qantas founders, top-tier frequent flyers and guests with a connection to the early Queensland airmail services will travel on board QF6661 for celebratory events with the local communities who played a key role in the launch of the airline that is now the national carrier.

Qantas founders inaugurated the airline as a company in November 1920 and spent two years preparing for scheduled services by flying joyriders, raising funds, sourcing aircraft and planning the first air route.

Operated by a Bombardier Q400 turboprop, the centenary flight will follow the 882-kilometre route taken by Qantas co-founders and pilots Paul McGinness from Charleville to Longreach and by Hudson Fysh from Longreach to Cloncurry in an open cockpit FK8 biplane over two days on 2-3 November 1922.

Pilot Paul McGinness (third from L) prepares to depart from Charleville for Longreach on 2 November 1922.

A replica mailbag will fly 106 handwritten letters from schoolchildren in Charleville to kids in Longreach and Cloncurry.

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the flight recognised a significant milestone for the two Australian companies and a defining moment in our nation’s aviation history.

“This flight celebrates the entrepreneurship and innovation of our founders a century ago, that still exists in Qantas’ DNA today,” Joyce said.

“Our founding chairman Fergus McMaster prophetically described our first flight as a ‘small beginning which would develop into one of the greatest services in the world’.

“Qantas has gone from that single biplane flight 100 years ago to the brink of a new era of aviation with our Airbus A350s on order, positioning us to fly people and parcels direct from Australia to any city in the world.

“Qantas and Australia Post have had a long and successful partnership, moving mail and freight for Australians, as we did on that first flight. The rapid growth of online shopping and the demand for air freight that comes with it is only seeing that partnership grow.”

The airline operates 11 dedicated Australia Post freighters and is preparing for a record Christmas period as online retail demand ramps up.

To meet growing demand, Qantas is converting one of its A330 widebody passenger aircraft into another dedicated Australia Post freighter.

The converted freighter will be able to carry around 42 tonnes of cargo each flight, approximately double the capacity of the A321 freighters currently operating for Australia Post. The A330 freighter is expected to start operating in 2023 and will support the shift towards online shopping in Australia.

A further six A321P2Fs have been approved to join the Qantas Freight fleet from 2023. These aircraft will have 60 per cent more capacity than the Boeing 737s they’re replacing and up to 35 per cent more fuel efficient.

History and aviation enthusiasts can follow QF6661’s journey which will be featured flight on FlightRadar24 and view behind the scenes coverage on Qantas social media channels.

Australia Post has launched a commemorative My Stamps collection of 12 stamps featuring a range of historic images.

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