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!



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.


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!

Qantas Family Day

You have no idea what time I had to get up for this event. My day started at 02:30 and I was on the road by 03:00. However I got to the airport just prior to the lounge opening to be greeted by a very welcome surprise, my operating aircraft would be VH-XZP, the newest 737-800 in the fleet and painted in a special livery from the past. Dubbed Retro Roo, I’m sure you can see why.

In Sydney I had another hour or so to kill before meeting up with James and his family, for the event in a hangar conveniently placed adjacent to the terminal.

Inside we were given the ability to virtually run amuck on VH-OGM, a 22-year-old 767-300 that will be retired from the fleet at the end of this month. In fact, I’m on the very last flight, appropriately named QF767. Next to her was VH-OJA, a 25-year-old world record holding 747-400. You see, back in 1989 this 747 flew the longest non-stop flight, LHR-SYD in 20 hours and 9 minutes.

So I met a #B767 Fleet Captain, thank you for having me @qantas

A photo posted by Sam Heathfield (@samh004) on

It was an interesting day, getting to see AFP equipment, firefighting equipment, two planes and all their secret spaces, like crew rest areas, flight decks and doing it with people who enjoy it as much as I do.