Stories by Guest Contributor

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A beautiful Qantas Boeing 747-400 - Photo: Owen Zupp

This is a guest post written by Owen Zupp, who has previously written a few great stories on AirlineReporter. Zupp’s background ranges from charter work and flight instruction to ferry flights, flight testing, and he has served as both a Chief Pilot and Chief Flying Instructor. With 20 years in airline operations, Owen has flown both domestically and across the globe from his Australian base. He holds a Masters Degree in Aviation Management and his writings on aviation have been published around the world and received various accolades and awards. He is also just a cool guy! -Editor

When it comes to the QANTAS Boeing 747, as the Beatles famously sang, “I heard the news, today. Oh boy!” …. although not officially. There may be life in the old girl yet.

The news broadcasts were showing footage of the “Queen of the Skies” making a flypast of Sydney Harbour, proclaiming that it was the final commercial service for the 747 in QANTAS colors. Meanwhile, my website and phone were bombarded with a common theme, “Is it true?” To be honest, I believe that it is highly likely, although I am yet to see an official announcement.

Since the commencement of the Stand Down, I have doubted whether the QANTAS 747 would return into commercial operations when the pandemic has passed. It has been a fine servant to the airways and all that it has safely conveyed, however, its planned retirement was well underway, before Covid-19 ever took its vile grip on the world. Still, there is no official statement to say that the 747 has retired from commercial service with QANTAS. Even so, it seems an opportune time to reflect on ‘the Queen”, as she is set to be on the ground for the time being.

I was recently in Cotonou for a 24-hour layover. Cotonou is the largest city of the small west African nation of Benin, and has become a secondary hub for emerging airline RwandAir. Taking advantage of its growing network, I booked a RwandAir ticket from Dakar, Senegal to Kigali, Rwanda via Cotonou. The transit stop included accommodation provided by the airline.

What is there to do in Cotonou? A quick Google search indicated that the closest attraction to the hotel was on the beach: an ‘amusement park’ called Air de Jeux Plage Erévan. This ‘park’ appeared to include a large-looking aircraft, so I decided to check it out. Little did I know the airframe was a historic Lockheed L1011 TriStar, full of amazing clues about its long and varied history around the world.

Cotonou appeared relatively relaxed compared to my previous destination of Dakar. The streets were quiet and the buildings were relatively low-rise. The beach was a wide expanse of sand, far cleaner than expected, with an ocean that is uninterrupted all the way to Antarctica. It was there that the ‘amusement park’ came into sight, and as I went closer the aircraft became clear: a white-washed Lockheed L1011 TriStar.

What a view! - Photo: Owen Zupp

This is a guest post written by Owen Zupp, who has previously written a few great stories on AirlineReporter. Today, he is sharing some parts of his new book, Boeing 747. Queen of the Skies: Reflections from the Flight Deck (we get no kick-back from the book, just want to share some cool AvGeekness — yes, that is now a thing). Zupp’s background ranges from charter work and flight instruction to ferry flights, flight testing, and the airlines. He has also served as both a Chief Pilot and Chief Flying Instructor. With 20 years in airline operations, Owen has flown both domestically and across the globe from his Australian base. He holds a Masters Degree in Aviation Management and his writings on aviation have been published around the world and received various accolades and awards. He is also just a cool guy! -Editor

To many, the Boeing 747 is more than merely a means of air travel. Affectionately called the “Queen of the Skies”, its arrival transformed the globe and over more than half a century it has carved its own niche in the history of aviation.

Its significance was recently impressed upon me by the number of queries I have received, both in person and via my website, that relate to the Boeing 747. Even though my career has seen me operate a hundred different types – the “Queen” continues to consume the lion’s share of interest.

I have been fortunate in that as an airline pilot and aviation writer, I have been privy to some very interesting 747 operations. From flying over the Antarctica to ferrying a fifth engine beneath the wing, I have been able to research and share a range of experiences.

As a consequence, I thought it was time to put these stories together in one place and the title, “Boeing 747 – Queen of the Skies. Reflections from the Flight Deck” was born.

What follows is an excerpt from the title. It relates to the chapter, “Magnificent Desolation”, which saw a Boeing 747-400ER venture southward to the frozen continent of Antarctica.

JSX's new livery.

At the beginning of August, JetSuiteX went through a rebrand and announced its new identity as JSX, accompanied with a new website jsx.com. JSX’s new name is a testament to its evolution since its inception in 2016. The company has always aimed to provide “Joyful, Simple Experiences” in its innovative form of air travel as a “hop-on jet service.”

JSX currently offers publicly available charter flights on 30-seat jets from private terminals out of seven airports: Burbank (BUR), Las Vegas (LAS), Orange County (SNA), Napa/Concord (CCR), Oakland (OAK), Seattle-Boeing Field (BFI), and Phoenix (PHX).

Lovers of aviation make up a unique community unlike any other, and JSX’s experienced travelers seem to be the most in-the-know thanks to its elevated and efficient service on short distance flights in highly desirable markets. Luckily for frequent travelers, the company continues to work toward improving the aviation industry. As JSX’s co-founder and CEO Alex Wilcox shares, “it’s an industry that once you start working in, it’s really hard to get out.”