Constellations Span the World

Crew of a Lockheed Constellation

Amidst patriotic fervour in 1954, Qantas operated four Royal flights, carrying Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh on their Australian tour. That same year Qantas began flying Super Constellation aircraft twice weekly from Sydney to San Francisco and Vancouver via Fiji, Canton Island and Hawaii.

By 1956 Qantas had a fleet of 34 propeller driven aircraft that carried a record number of passengers to the XVl Olympic Games in Melbourne. Qantas carried the Olympic flame into the Southern Hemisphere for the first time on its longest ever trip, from Athens to Darwin - a total of 13,800km. It was a momentous year for the national carrier as the landmark decision was made to order seven Boeing 707-138 jetliners at a cost of A$28 million.

During 1957 Qantas opened Qantas House a modern 11 storey head office in Sydney, bringing together nearly 1000 staff from around the city. Qantas acquired a shareholding in Malayan Airways and bought Fiji Airways, based in Suva.

On 14 January 1958, two Super Constellations took off from Melbourne to inaugurate a pioneering round the world service. One travelled via India along the Kangaroo Route, while the other flew eastward on the Southern Cross Route via the United States. The Super Constellations circumnavigated the globe in opposite directions, arriving back in Sydney six days later. Before long, eight round the world services were operating weekly. The Qantas Flying Kangaroo was now a familiar sight at airports in 23 countries.