Entering the Jet Age

When Gough Whitlam was in China, Qantas was there

Between July and September 1959, ahead of every other airline outside the US, Qantas took delivery of seven Boeing 707-138 jet aircraft. Boeing 707 services to the United States began in July. Two months later the service was extended to London via New York. Sydney-London services via India began in October.

So great were its advantages that Qantas modified its existing 707-138 fleet with the turbo-fans. With the arrival of its first 138B series aircraft, Qantas called its Boeings V-Jets, from the Latin 'vannus', meaning fan. Two more were ordered in 1963.

Four of the new 'B' version of the 707, fitted with revolutionary turbo-fan engines developed by Pratt and Whitney, were purchased in 1961. They offered lower fuel consumption, shorter take offs, larger payloads over longer distances and a faster cruising speed of 960km/h. Range, as always, was of critical importance to Qantas because of Australia's geographical isolation.

Qantas 707

The tail fins of all the 707 airliners were painted red with the V-Jet logo boldly displayed in white.

The Boeing 707 fleet was expanding rapidly. By 1964, 13 of the Boeing 707 jetliners were operating on most Qantas routes and the airline had begun selling its propeller driven aircraft. By March 1966 Qantas' Boeing fleet had reached 19 jets, six of which were the larger 707-338C series. Five more were on order.

In June 1966 Sir Hudson Fysh retired as Chairman of Qantas and was soon followed by the man most responsible for the post-war Qantas expansion, Chief Executive and General Manager Sir Cedric Turner. Captain R J Ritchie, who had taken a leading role in the building up of the fleet and network after the war, became General Manager. Sir Roland Wilson, a Qantas Board member, was the new Chairman.