August 6, 2020 in Dag

Up, up and away

Over the last few weeks I’ve done grumpy posts and I’ve done self-deprecating posts. Now, in order to demonstrate that as a writer I’m fully capable of displaying a broad range of emotions, I’m going to settle on a new one today. I’m going to get all soppy and sentimental.

I’ll just gently brush a tear from my eye, and then I’ll begin.

Last week, marked a significant moment in Australian history – of a sort anyway. It was the departure of the last Boeing 747. That’s right, the last of the great jumbo jets.

I remember the very first time a jumbo came out to Australia. I remember it did some kind of flyover of the city. I remember standing in our suburban backyard, looking up as the great beast flew across the sky. It was definitely an event to be commemorated. Little Australia, far, far over the ocean, was becoming better connected to the world, and entering a new era of international travel.

Of course, just seeing it fly over was not enough. We had to get a closer view. So we jumped in the car and drove out to Tullamarine, where Melbourne’s new international airport had only just opened. There it was, sitting on the tarmac, gleaming in its bright Qantas livery. I still have a vivid memory of it today.

Then again, we were kind of nuts about airplanes in those days. We used to drive out to Tulla, to this spot just past the airport that was under the flight path. Then we’d sit and watch for ages as the planes flew over, coming in or taking off. It was hours of fun.

It seems strange to think about those days now. When air travel was exciting and new. Before the era of mass travel and budget airlines. Then again, the way things are in these times of virus and lockdown, I reckon there will come a time when air travel is once again exciting and new. But it won’t be on a jumbo. It will be on one of those sleek new jets that fly longer and faster, with less noise and less pollution.

Still, I can’t help thinking about that old jumbo, now sitting quietly in the middle of the American desert. Once so sparkly and new, now unwanted and derelict. Another casualty of the relentless march of time. I suppose there’s some sort of message there. I’m just not sure I want to hear it.

So farewell 747. Enjoy your rest. You earned it.

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