Lenn Bayliss shot 747 VQ BVB deliver waterbombers back to Australia qmrlui

A Boeing 747-800F has transported six firefighting helicopters from Greece to Wellcamp Airport in one trip.

The VQ-BVB aircraft departed Athens on 16 October as flight 7L5540 and landed in Toowoomba two days later via stops in Singapore and Baku.

Australian Aviation reported two years ago how the same McDermott Aviation aircraft were taken to Europe on a larger Antonov AN124 to tackle wildfires in the region.

Global air charter specialists Chapman Freeborn organised the flight using an aircraft operated by Azerbaijani airline Silk Way West.

Australian Aviation’s Lenn Bayliss was on hand to take pictures of the return flight – just as he took shots of the first leg of the trip.

Onboard the 747 were six Bell helicopters, including a mix of Bell 214B and Bell 214STs. The Queen of the Skies was met in Australia with a ceremonial water salute performed by two fire engines on the runway.

Michael Amson, VP – Australia at Chapman Freeborn, said, “If you said to a regular commercial airline that you need to load even just one unit, 8 meters in length, onto a PMC pallet with overhang on all sides, the answer would be a straight no.

“Yet, here we are showing that it can be done by having six helicopter fuselages loaded consecutively onto the world’s longest widebody freighter aircraft.”

Qantas retired the last of its 747s in July 2020.

Its final flight, QF7474, became a major national media event in July 2020, when it flew to LAX before heading to the Mojave Desert “boneyard”.

After an emotional take-off to the tune of I Still Call Australia Home, first-leg captain Sharelle Quinn flew the aircraft over Sydney’s CBD, Harbour and beaches before heading to the HARS Museum, where she dipped its wings in a final salute to the first 747-400 housed at the attraction, VH-OJA.

As she made her way across the Pacific, Captain Quinn took the opportunity to honour the final Qantas 747 flight by drawing a 275-kilometre x 250-kilometre Qantas Kangaroo in the sky. Hundreds of thousands of Twitter and Instagram users shared Qantas’ official post of the stunt.

Australian Aviation revealed two years later how OJA would never fly again despite being purchased by Kalitta Air. The aircraft had surprisingly left the Mojave boneyard in June 2011 despite it being believed to be its final resting place.

Bayliss, meanwhile, is one of Australian Aviation’s most prolific contributors. In 2020, he broke the news that Rex was set to take aircraft that previously belonged to rival Virgin Australia.


Photos by Lenn_Bayliss

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