Hollywood actor John Travolta will be on board the Boeing 707 aircraft he’s donating to the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) when it touches down in the Illawarra.
HARS president Bob De La Hunty has told Fairfax Media the plane won’t arrive without Travolta, but said it’s too early to say when the vintage passenger jet will fly into the Illawarra Regional Airport.
Travolta revealed he had gifted the plane – bearing the unique registration 707JT – to HARS in a shock announcement, made via social media, on Saturday.
“The aircraft currently requires a lot of work to be restored to a safe flying state and having seen first hand the dedication and passion of people at HARS, I have no doubt this beautiful and historical aircraft will be flying again,” Travolta said.
“HARS have an impressive track record of restoring historical aircraft.”
Travolta, a qualified pilot and Qantas ambassador, said he hoped to part of the crew to fly the ex-Qantas plane from the United States to the airport at Albion Park.
Mr De La Hunty said work was under way to ensure Travolta was on the plane.
“Right from the outset he was delighted that we’d be interested in preserving it and we said it’s one condition that he in fact be with the aircraft,” he said.
“He’s certainly jumped at that opportunity … so we’ll work around his movie scheduling and make sure that’s a reality.
“We don’t expect it to arrive here without him on board.”
In the meantime, Mr De La Hunty said the aviation museum would send an engineering team to the US to help prepare the plane for the historic flight. HARS will also have a US-based engineering firm – the same one that works on the aircraft of the President of the United States – look over the plane.
Bringing Travolta’s 707 to the Illawarra was first discussed between the actor and Mr De La Hunty in 2009.
Read John Travolta’s full statement below:
It gives me great pleasure to make this exciting historical announcement that my beloved Boeing 707 aircraft has been donated to the Historical Aircraft Restoration society (HARS) based in the town of Albion Park, approximately 90 miles (140 km) south of the city of Sydney in Australia.
As many of you will know, flying is a passion of mine and I am just so grateful to be fortunate enough to count many hours flying such a beautiful aircraft.
The aircraft was originally delivered to Qantas Airways in 1964 and was converted for private use after it finished its life with “The Flying Kangaroo”.
I was honoured to have the 707 repainted in the original Qantas colours when I became the ambassador for the airline, and it’s so fitting that many of the volunteers at HARS are retired Qantas employees.
The aircraft currently requires a lot of work to be restored to a safe flying state and having seen first hand the dedication and passion of people at HARS, I have no doubt this beautiful and historical aircraft will be flying again.
HARS have an impressive track record of restoring historical aircraft and I have personally flown in a Super Constellation that they restored to flying condition from almost nothing.
I am hoping to be part of the crew to fly the aircraft to Australia, supported by well qualified and experienced pilots and engineers.
In making this announcement, I would like to mention the significant support given by the Bendigo Bank Oak Flats and Shellharbour Community Bank Branches who as a local organization, have been very supportive of HARS’ efforts in aircraft restoration.
Thanks must also go to QBE Insurance (Australia) Limited Services for their significant support as well.
I am truly excited by this project and am just so pleased that this beautiful aircraft, for which I obviously have very fond memories, will continue to fly well into the future.
Thank you, John Travolta
This story originally appeared on the Illawarra Mercury