Movie legend John Travolta visits 707’s new Aussie home

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December 07, 2019
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John Travolta with his 707 in Sydney during a visit some years ago.

New photos have emerged of a quick visit by movie star John Travolta to the future home of his donated Boeing 707-138 in November during an Australian speaking tour.

The surprise visit to the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society at Albion Park, south of Sydney, saw the aviation enthusiast take a flight on the society’s restored Lockheed Super Constellation, affectionately known as Connie.

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Travolta has donated his ex-Qantas Boeing 707 to HARS and the aircraft is currently in Brunswick, Georgia where it is being prepared for the flight to its new home at newly renamed Shellharbour Airport early next year.

The latest HARS newsletter said the movie legend met many HARS volunteers and visitors and enjoyed a tour of the museum before going for the flight on the Constellation.

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Hollywood legend John Travolta with “Connie”. Photos: M. Keech courtesy of HARS

The 737 was originally scheduled to arrive in November but was relocated to a hangar in Brunswick while work was done to comply with an Airworthiness Directive relating to the attachment fittings for the aircraft’s four engines.

The plane, which started life as VH-EBM,  is the last of 13 707s specially built for Qantas and known as “hotrods”.

The Boeing 138B was about 10ft shorter than the standard 707 to give it better airfield performance and range.

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Travolta’s aircraft was delivered to Qantas in 1964 and sold to Braniff International Airways in 1969.

It was converted to a VIP jet in 1973 and had a number of owners, including singer Frank Sinatra and billionaire Kirk Kirkorian.

Travolta first came into contact with it while filming “Get Shorty” but had to wait three years before it hit the right price in 1998.

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Travolta bore the cost of maintaining the aircraft for the first four years, before striking a deal with then Qantas chief executive Geoff Dixon to paint the plane in Qantas colors and come on board as the airline’s ambassador.

 

The quid pro quo was that Qantas took over the aircraft’s expensive maintenance.

The actor put the plane up for sale several years ago and decided to donate it after an approach from HARS.

Bringing the aircraft back to Australia is a costly exercise and anyone keen to support the project can make a tax-deductible donation. The email is [email protected]