November 16, 2010
After 90 years of operation, it's time to wish Qantas a very happy birthday!
Of course, they've had their fair share of bad press of late, but putting that aside, one has to marvel at the achievements of this airline over the years.
Here's just a few of their milestones.
In 1920 Qantas - which stands for Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Limited (Q.A.N.T.A.S.)-registered in Brisbane on 16 November.
1934 - Qantas Empire Airways (Q.E.A.) was registered in Brisbane - a joint venture between Q.A.N.T.A.S. and Imperial Airways of England - and awarded Australian Government tender to operate the country's first overseas air service between Brisbane, Darwin and Singapore which began on 26 February 1935.
1943 to 1945 - Qantas pilots flew the world's longest route - an average of 28 hours - from Perth to Colombo (Sri Lanka) using twin-engine Catalina Flying Boats, undertaken mostly in radio silence to avoid Japanese attack - 271 safe crossings, 648 passengers, a total of almost one million miles.
1948 - First female flight hostesses join their male colleagues in May on the Lockheed Constellation L749 services - the first to operate with all-Australian crew from Sydney through to London.
1958 - Qantas created aviation history becoming the first airline to offer round-the-world services between Australia and the UK via the southern and northern hemispheres.
1959 - In July , Qantas became the first airline outside the United States to fly B707 jets carrying passengers from Australia to the UK across the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans and later also via Asia.
1975 - Qantas engineer Jack Grant presented with global aviation's premier safety award for his contribution to the development of the inflatable aircraft slide/raft equipment.
1974 - World record for largest passenger load, evacuating 674 people with 23 crew on a Boeing B747 after Cyclone Tracy devastated Darwin.
1979 - Qantas became the first airline in the world to offer Business Class in a separate cabin with individual service on international flights.
1989 - World's longest non-stop flight undertaken by a commercial jet aircraft from London to Sydney, the Boeing 747-400 aircraft City of Canberra.
Aside from years of pioneering and innovation, Qantas became an Australian icon known worldwide. Ask any Aussie overseas and they won't deny feeling a pang of homesickness seeing the familiar 'Flying Kangaroo'. Qantas also became known to millions through the iconic "I Still Call Australia Home" campaign. The video is freely available on YouTube. When visiting family a year or so ago, I was delighted to see a refreshed version of this ad involving the Aboriginal children of the Australia Children's Choir- it can't help but bring a tear to the eye of any proud Aussie.
So, from a self-confessed AvGeek who loved Qantas as a little kid, to a proud Aussie today, a very happy birthday Qantas.! Here's to 90 years more!!