Retro Roo to Longreach

Today I took a charity flight to somewhere I visit quite often, Longreach. This flight was booked back in early September for the princely sum of $737.80 (B737-800 reference to those in the know), but as the proceeds of the flight were going to the Western Queensland Drought Appeal, it was certainly not too lavish.

For me to make the flight, I started my day on the Gold Coast at 02:30, driving to Brisbane Airport to catch the first Qantas flight down to Sydney at 05:00. The early start only started to catch up with me halfway home to Sydney, and on my final flight of the day.

To say I enjoyed the day would be an understatement. Even though I’ve been to Longreach many times before, going with friends was a whole new experience, and I enjoyed pointing out various things that I’ve picked up over the years. Of course, it was also good to see everyone at the museum I see every year, who wondered why I was back!

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The festivities started in the Sydney Business lounge with a few speeches, Bloody Mary’s and a truly awesome performance by Leo Sayer. There was encouragement to dress up in 70’s style… however I decided to play it safe and just go smart casual, as a lot of the other flyers did. Though that’s not to say some didn’t get into it, and of course the flight and cabin crew all dressed up!

Leo Sayer, Catriona Rowntree & Flight Crew

Cabin Crew

Flight Crew in the Catalina

The flight crew certainly enjoyed themselves in Longreach, though my favourite part of the day was during the auction on the flight back to Sydney. Several items were offered, with crew spread evenly down the aisle to spot buyers and relaying the message to the front. The last item was an original acrylic on canvas of the Retro Roo, painted by Kate Fraser, an FO for Qantas. It was valued quite high but bidding was off to a slow start when out of nowhere came a PA from the flight deck for a higher bid. No one was expecting that but it seemed to breathe a little new life into the bids, though they ultimately bid higher yet again to win the painting in the end.

Qantas Retro Roo inflight Auction

The menu for the day wasn’t bad either. I especially enjoyed the Cosmopolitans as a pre-departure drink from Longreach.

Qantas Retro Roo Menu

No trip would be complete of course, without a goodie bag. All passengers were given a retro-inspired satchel with a retro-luggage tag, QFM lanyard, retro-hat and shirt.

Goodies

Lastly, but certainly not least, keep an eye out for me in the Channel 9 series “ready for takeoff” on Friday nights, as I signed a release and was on camera!

Catalina Display Launch Dinner

Just 6 months ago I was in LRE for the last QFM AGM with Dee-Anne. Due to a change of financial year reporting for the museum – so they don’t split in half their busiest time of the year (winter) – I was back to hear how they had been and more importantly, to stay on a little longer for the launch of a new display the following night.

Consolidated PBY Catalina "G-AGIE" looking out at the sunset
Consolidated PBY Catalina “G-AGIE” looking out at the sunset

They were still painting right up until the afternoon of the launch dinner, but they did an amazing job getting everything together. To complete the display for future visitors to the museum is not just the paint job, but some seats have been installed inside, with subs positioned along the skin of the aircraft to give the sound and feel of being inside a working Catalina. It’s really a very cool experience.

Aircraft Name "Antares Star"
Aircraft Name “Antares Star”
Aircraft Tail "4"
Aircraft Tail “4”
Aircraft registration "G-AGIE"
Aircraft registration “G-AGIE”

A slightly larger collection of photos was posted to Flickr.

QFM AGM 2014

As another year flew by it was time once again to make my pilgrimage to the outback and visit the museum. It was unfortunate this time more so because of the weather they’d been having: record length of days above 40º in November. The top was 43º and be there humidity or not, it wasn’t particularly nice outside.

I was also taking Dee-anne up for her first taste of the outback… it was just a shame it was so damn hot. Luckily our AC worked, probably a little too well though.

It was nice to see the Catalina was finally being coated in paint, the original colours it would have been painted during the war. The painter, on loan from Qantas in Brisbane, did an amazing job! When it’s finally complete, with turrets and blister and set up with some information I’m sure it’ll be a real draw. New information was the purchase of a Super Connie in Manila and the start of what will be a long process to restore it over there, before breaking it up to ship over here, and re-assemble. I can’t wait to see that at the museum. Overall I was quite happy with the financials, and even happier to hear that the new solar panels had to be dialled back from 100% draw due to an agreement with their power company on the amount they were to use. Seems they’re powering the museum very nicely. Lots of scope for future applications, even as the museum switches to LED’s and a new AC.

@chiickax says “what @qantas plane?” at the #QFOM in #LRE #747 #qantas #Longreach #Crumpler

A photo posted by Sam Heathfield (@samh004) on

We did the Platinum Tour while out there, getting Dee-anne up on two wings, but not being particularly happy about that. She got a good tour of the aircraft though.