QANTAS Celebrates 75 years of Aviation in Australia 1920-1995

  Tuesday August 02, 2016 12:43:44 PM
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 1920-1995 Photograph

1921 Avro 504K 1921 BE2E 1922 AW FK-8 1922 DH9C 1923 Bristol Turner 1924 DH 50A
1929 DH61 1934 DH86 1934 DH83 1938 Short C Class 1940 DN84 1941 Lockheed 10A
1943 PBY-5B Catalina 1944 Liberator LB-30 1945 Avro Lancastrian 1946 Douglas DC-3 1947 Lockheed Constellation 1949 Douglas DC-4
1950 Short Sandringham 1954  DHC2 Beaver 1954 Lockheed Super Constellation 1958 DHC3 Otter 1959 Boeing 707 1959 Lockheed Electra
1971 Boeing 747B 1981 Airbus A300-B4 1985 Boeing 767 ER 1986 Boeing 737-300 Ex-Australian Airlines 1989 Boeing 747 400 Longreach  

The Inspiration.

The story of Qantas begins in 1919 when a former Australian Corps officers W Hudson Fysh and Paul McGuiness became convinced the an air service was the answer to linking remote outback settlements. Fyshe later wrote: 'We were convinced of the important part aircraft would eventually play in transporting mails. passengers and freight over the sparsely populated and practically road less areas of western and northern Queensland and North Australia'

Small Beginnings

A wealthy grazier who took little convincing about the benefits of aviation was Fergus McMaster. McGuiness and Fysh outlined their plans for a service and McMaster, fired with enthusiasm, convinced business acquaintances to invest with them.

With their former flight sergeant  Arthur Baird as aircraft mechanic. Fysh and McGuiness travelled to Mascot aerodrome in Sydney, where they ordered an Avro aircraft. Eventually a company named Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Limited was established.   Now it its acronym QANTAS and it was all formally done at Gresham hotel, Brisbane on 16th November 1920.

In 1921, the Qantas fleet in Winton, comprised of two war surplus biplanes - Avro 504K with 100 horsepower (74 kilowatt)) water cooled Sunbeam Dyak engine and a Royal Aircraft Factory BE2E with 90 horsepower (76 kilowatt) air cooled engine

McGuiness and Baird initially flew joy riding and demonstration flights, but 1922 larger aircraft were needed to operate a scheduled airmails service between Charleville and Cloncurry.


The First Passenger

An 84 years old outback pioneer named Alexander Kennedy become the first Qantas passenger on a scheduled flight, on 2dn November 1922, was on the Longreach-Winton-McKinlay-Cloncurry section of the inaugural mails service from Charleville to Cloncurry.

Formative Years

In 1924 a four passenger DH50 with an enclosed cabin was introduced on the same run, marking the introductions of post war commercial aircraft to Australia. The following year the service was extended a further 400 km   from Cloncurry to Camooweal, calling on route to Mt Isa. a further route extension from Cloncurry to Normanton was inaugurated on 1st July 1927 with Hudson Fysh as the pilot. That same year the first de Havilland Moth aircraft was imported from Qantas. The rest is history as they say.


By 1925 Qantas had begun building DH 50 aircraft under license at Longreach, site of the flying school it opened the same year. In 1928 Cloncurry became the base for the worlds  first Flying Doctor service, which used Qantas aircraft for the next 21 years to bring medical care to isolated Australian farms and communities.

in 1930 the airline moved its headquarters and workshops to Brisbane.

Wider skies soon beckoned. In April 1931 Qantas carried mail to Darwin as part of an experimental Australian-United kingdom link with Imperial Airways, the predecessor of BOAC and in turn British Airways.

In 1935, flying as Qantas Empire Airways Ltd(in which Imperial Airways held a 50% interest), Qantas took over the Darwin-Singapore sector with specially built four engine DH86 aircraft. This service, with a complement of 10 passengers, took three and half days to cover the 7,0000km route from Brisbane to Singapore. - at that time the world's fastest overseas commercial service.

By the outbreak of World War 2 in 1939 the Qantas headquarters had moved to Sydney and the flagship was the famous Short C Class Flying Boat, flying three times a week between Australia and Singapore.

When the United kingdom - Australia air route via Singapore was cut in 1942, Qantas began an operation which pioneered many aspects of long distance flying. It flew Catalina flying boats non-stop between Perth and Ceylon ( Sri Lank) a 5,650km journey which took up to 30 hours or more. Passengers became members of the Secret Order of the Double Sunrise  as the sun rose twice during the flights.

In the latter stages of the war these flights were operated by Liberator and Lancastrian aircraft and it was during this period that Qantas adopted the kangaroo symbol, first carried on a Liberator aircraft .

Rapid expansion followed and Qantas began to re-establish its services using the experience gained in long distance flying during the war years.

The late 1940s were eventful  for Qantas. The Australian Government bought all shares in Qantas  in 1947. During the decade the airline introduced long range, pressurised Lockheed Constellations on the Kangaroo route to London and began services to Papua New Guinea, Japan and Hong Kong .

Flights to south Africa were introduced in 1952 and Sandringham flying boats were used to link Australia to islands on the South West Pacific.

With the arrival in 1954 of the company's first Lockheed Super Constellations, Qantas began flights to around the world services in 1958, when these aircraft linked Australia with London via the Kangaroo Route and via the US.

Qantas entered the jet age in 1959 when it became the fist airline outside the US to operate Boeing 707 aircraft. Four jet engines pushed it along at 885kl per hour.

The airline quickly established the first two way round the world jet service via Australia . Larger, longer range versions of the 707 and Lockheed Electra formed the mainstay of the Qantas fleet as service expanded through the 1960s.

in 1971 Qantas introduced  new standards of comfort, service and reliability when it began taking delivery of the advanced B model of Boeing's new 747. at one stage Qantas was the only airline in the world operating an all 747 fleet. The airline took delivery of the 747SP ( Special Performance) aircraft and later the 747-300 series.

The airline's first 747-400 series set a world distance record for a commercial jet when it flew to to London-Singapore on stop in August 1989. It covered the 18.001 kilometres in just 20 hours, nine minutes and five seconds. This B747-400 series was named 'Longreach' to signify the aircraft's long range and to commemorate the airlines' origins.

In September 1992 Qantas purchased the successful domestic carrier Australian Airlines and the government announced that the  enlarged Qantas group would be privatised . Late that year the government accepted the British Airways$A665 million bid for 25 per cent of Qantas. Toady the Qantas group employs some 29,000 people in Australia and overseas. Most of the business is Asia - Pacific area, one of the fastest growing markets in the world.

'It is one of the biggest airlines in this region and the Qantas Group, including regional airlines, flies more than 15 million destinations in 26 countries.

It has been along journey from that outback airstrip in 1921, but who can doubt that the story of Qantas is the story of Australian aviation. Qantas truly and Australian airline' as of the year 1995.