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Thursday, 8 May 2008

jumbo jet wing walk

jumbo jet wing walk

The City of Bunbury jumbo jet carried 5.4 million passengers and flew
82.5 million kilometres during her working life. Adrienne Costin
discovered that even in retirement in the Queensland Outback, this
grand old dame of the air remains most accommodating.

In this day and age of unlimited air travel the size of a Boeing 747
is no longer surprising, but when that jumbo resides in a regional
airport and is exposing her inner secrets to visitors, she becomes
quite special.

The City of Bunbury has been the star exhibit at the Qantas Founders
Outback Museum in Longreach since she arrived there in 2002, 82 years
after the first Qantas plane left this town on November 16, 1920.

She, and a neighbouring Boeing 707, are the only two such planes in
the world which are open to the public and it's a great opportunity to
explore firsthand these giant machines that fly us around the world.

Check out the cockpit and sit in the captain's chair, hand on the
controls, imagining the machine is yours for the day. The tiny area of
cockpit and the array of instruments is daunting to say the least, but
from one who regularly drives a car, the most disconcerting thing was
the fact you can't see the nose of the plane from your seat.

Visitors taking the tour walk through the cabin and see the padding
and wires behind the lining walls, right down to the cables along the
roof which run from the controls in the cockpit to the tail rudder at
the rear. Nowdays its all done with fibre optics, but it does make you
appreciate how basic the principles of steerage are.

A short climb down a very narrow ladder and you are in the workings of
the ship – the part of the plane where the engineers have to venture
if something goes wrong – and right next to the cargo hold which is
impressively large!

An optional extra on this tour is a wing walk. Harness firmly clipped
in place, you step out of the emergency exit door onto the huge wing
and make your way out from the plane. It gives an entirely different
perspective of flying and the plane and there's something quite
special knowing that you are walking where few have been before.

Visitors can also take a tour of the smaller plane which stands next
to the jumbo – a fully restored Boeing 707 which was the first
passenger jet to be registered in Australia and Qantas' first jet
aircraft. Privately owned before her return to Longreach, the
furnishings are stylish and give a great perspective on just what you
can do to the interior of a jet plane.

The Museum is a modern, air-conditioned building standing next to the
Longreach airport terminal and is a stylish tribute to Australia's
commercial aviation history. It is open 7 days a week, every day of
the year, except Christmas Day, and a range of admission prices are
available. Prices for the 747 tour start from $19 for adults ranging
through to the "Ultimate Tour Package" which is $115 for admission to
all parts of the museum, both jet tours and the wing walk.
www.qfom.com.au.

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