Landed: Pilot Michael East, with his wife, Michelle. Picture: SLYVIA LIBERAviation history: old girl’s final flightQantas jumbo lands in the Illawarra: photos, videoJumbo lands at Albion Park: readers’ photosRunway survives heaviest arrivalOne of four pilots charged with delivering the Qantas 747-400 to the Illawarra Regional Airport on Sunday morning was Michael East.
The last time the former University of Wollongong student touched down at the Illawarra Regional Airport it was behind the controls of a single-engine four-seater.
On Sunday morning he was on a 400-seat aircraft – albeit 400 empty passenger seats.
“The flight this morning went off perfectly, it was a beautiful day and I am elated and thrilled to be part of it,” the second officer said.
“It was perfect conditions, few clouds and a light breeze.
“Coming out of Sydney we had the fire trucks give us a water cannon salute and that was spectacular, and coming down the coast it was beautiful.
“We were blown away so many people came out to see it.
“On approach there were thousands of people lining the runway with cameras flashing away … it was a very special moment.
“HARS is a fitting place for the aircraft to spend its life, it is a historic aircraft.
“It will be on display for generations to come and will be a great tourist attraction.”
The 34-year-old said after months of planning it was back to regular duties this week.
“This has been going on for a few months, Qantas has hundreds of people working on this in all different departments so a huge thank-you goes out to them.
“A lot of work has gone into making this happen today.”
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