Over the weekend, Qantas operated an eight and a half-hour flight around the Australian skies. The flight to nowhere allowed Australians the chance to escape Sydney for a few hours, in spite of travel restrictions imposed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Seeing the Australian sights
Saturday’s flight saw a Boeing 787 Dreamliner used for a flight from Sydney to Sydney. However, rather than just taking off and landing, the eight and a half hour flight saw 150 Australians enjoying sights ranging from the Great Barrier Reef to Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock.
The flight departed Sydney at 10:43 in the morning and initially flew north along the coast at 25,000 feet. This gave half the aircraft a view of Australia, and the other half a view of the ocean.
As the aircraft approached Brisbane, it dropped down to 2,800 feet as it flew around Gold Coast, Brisbane, and Sunshine Coast. As the flight passed Coolum Beach, guests were invited to visit the town for real.
Flight QF787 then returned to 25,000 feet as it continued north. As the aircraft, VH-ZND, approached Hamilton Island, it dropped down again. However, this time the aircraft went as low as 1,475 feet according to data from FlightRadar24.com.
The aircraft flew around the Heart Reef, a coral reef in the shape of a heart, before climbing again, this time to 28,000 feet. Qantas had arranged a satellite phone call with a local expert to be played over the PA at this point.
Until Hamilton Island, flight QF787 had been hugging the coast. However, at this point, the Boeing 787 started to fly towards the center of the country. Around five hours into the flight, the aircraft began to descend once more.
This time it dropped to around 3,900 feet. For the next 30 minutes, the aircraft flew around Uluru, giving passengers stunning views of the massive sandstone rock formation. Once again, Qantas had organized a satellite phone call with a local expert.
Following this last sight, the aircraft once more climbed, this time to 31,000 feet. It then proceeded in a straight line to Sydney before a reasonably straight in approach to the city’s main airport. The aircraft then landed at 19:09, eight hours, and 26 minutes after it departed.
Commenting ahead of the flight, Captain Alex Passerini said,
“We will angle the aircraft so that passengers on both sides get a great view, in particular of Uluru after we were granted special permission for the flyover. It’s going to be a really special day and we are excited to be back in the air again.”