Stunning Qantas 787 touches down in Red Centre

Source: Qantas

Warning: This post includes the names, images and information of deceased people that may cause sadness or distress to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. I acknowledge these elders and their descendants as I type this on the land of the Jagera people.

Qantas’ fourth Boeing 787-9 (rego: VH-ZND)has been delivered to the Australian airline. The plane operating as flight QF 6026 departed Seattle on Wednesday February 2018 at 21:15 local time and 15.5 hours later touched down at Alice Springs Airport at 06:21 local time after a 7,000nm flight. It is not the longest non stop delivery flight an Australian airline has had. That distinction belongs to a QF 330 from Toulouse to Melbourne, a distance of 10,507 miles on 24th December 2002. . 

Route of VH-ZND delivery trip on Flightradar24

VH-ZND received a traditional water spray welcome by Airservices Aviation Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF). This was followed by a traditional indigenous welcome by family of the artist Emily Kame Kngwarreye  which the plane is named after The 787-9 took off about two hours later for a 58 minute flight around the Australian centre over the spectacular West MacDonnell Ranges. The plane was trailed by two helicopters.

The plane features a brilliant  Australian indigenous livery inspired by artist Emily Kame Kngwarreye known as Yam Dreaming 1991. Qantas stated: The artwork depicts the culturally significant yam plant, an important symbol in Emily’s Dreaming stories and a staple food source in her home region of Utopia, 230km north-east of Alice Springs.” 

A team of more than 60 graphic designers, engineers and painters at Boeing’s Seattle facility worked with design and branding agency, Balarinji to paint the design onto the aircraft. There are almost 5000 dots on the aircraft which took over ten days to finish.

Born in 1910 at Ahalkere in the Utopia Homelands, Emily Kame Kngwarreye is one of Australia’s most significant 20th century artists. Her paintings forged a new direction for Australian Aboriginal art from the use of traditional iconography to an open abstract landscape. Emily learnt ancestral stories, song cycles and traditional body paint markings for women’s dancing ceremonies and became a leader in women’s ceremonial business. She worked as a stock hand, becoming very familiar with the Australian landscape. Her paintings are maps of these traditional lands.

Her work Yam Dreaming, 1991 Yam Dreaming shows the culturally significant yam plant, a staple food source in her home region. It is part of the Campbelltown City Council Permanent Collection purchased in 1995 with assistance from the Australia Council It has been exhibited globally and can be viewed at Campbelltown Arts Centre southwest of downtown Sydney.

Emily Kame Kngwarreye passed on 2 September 1996. It is astoundingly exciting that the Australian flag carrier is paying tribute to her in this way.  The plane looks beautiful and I cannot wait to find a way of flying on VH-ZND.  The plane departed from Alice Springs after her debut and flew to Sydney and then Melbourne and Perth. There will be a series of Australian domestic flights before Emily Kame Kngwarreye flies back to the USA to  plying the transpacific route before being let loose on the new non stop 18 hour Perth to London kangaroo route.

Fly well Emily and may your heart sing the songs of dreaming and hope for the Great Southern Land and her peoples.

Qantas has 123 aircraft connecting 85 destinations. Emily is the fifth aircraft to feature indigenous motifs.   I have flown Qantas 392 times and have been a Platinum Frequent Flyer for most of the last decade.  I am also Gold for Life with the airline. I rate Qantas an overall 92% making them my sixth favourite airline behind Qatar, Emirates, Cathay Pacific, Air New Zealand and Lufthansa.

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