In recent years, John Travolta has made the headlines in aviation news with his Boeing 707 aircraft. A passionate pilot, Travolta had donated it to Australia’s Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) in 2017. However, it appears to have still not traveled down under, with its transfer having since been delayed multiple times. So, where is it now?
A keen private pilot
American actor John Travolta is perhaps best known by the general public for his roles in films such as Grease and Pulp Fiction. However, in the aviation world, he has another legacy. As a keen private pilot, Travolta owns four aircraft. One of these is a Gulfstream private jet. He famously had an electrical failure while flying this aircraft into Washington in November 1992. This forced him to make an emergency landing that nearly resulted in a mid-air collision.
Travolta’s Boeing 707
However, Travolta’s most famous aircraft is an ex-Qantas Boeing 707 quadjet airliner. Aussie Airliners reports that it was a 707-138B variant, which was 10 feet (3 meters) shorter than the standard -100 version.
Originally registered as VH-EBM, it entered service with the Australian flag carrier in 1964. However, aged more than 55 years old, it now bears the registration N707JT. All in all, the aircraft was the 13th Boeing plane delivered to Qantas, but it spent just four years at the airline.
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Qantas withdrew the aircraft in 1968, by which time it had amassed nearly 12,000 flying hours. It went on to have a variety of post-Qantas owners, including Braniff and TAG Aviation. Travolta eventually purchased it in May 1998, under the name Jet Clipper Johnny LLC. It was re-designated as N707JT, a custom registration for the American actor, in December that year.
Travolta first announced the aircraft’s donation to the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society in 2017. The group is based at Shellharbour Airport in Wollongong, Australia. After extensive preparation and certification work, Simple Flying first reported that its transfer down under was scheduled for November of that year. While Travolta himself can only fly the plane in the US, he had still hoped to witness it arrive in Australia.
However, a month before its planned departure, it became apparent that November would not be realistic. In October 2019, the necessity of further airworthiness work meant that it would have to be pushed back to 2020. Working out where the aircraft would refuel on its transpacific route was also proving complicated.
Last year, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic did actually help give HARS time to complete essential maintenance on rare aircraft. However, the pandemic also meant that it could not fly to Australia once the work was finished. Indeed, Planelogger reports the aircraft as having been sighted still at Brunswick Golden Isles Airport, Georgia (BQK) as recently as November.
As such, the transfer was once again pushed back to this year, 2021. When exactly it makes the journey remains to be seen, as Australia’s borders remain closed. However, what we do know is that, when it can make the journey, it will be a very special sight indeed.
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