Qantas flies sailplanes inside a Boeing 747

Sailplane glider

Qantas has flown all kinds of items since it was founded over 90 years ago, but until recently it had never transported another aircraft, now it has flown two.

It loaded two Jonker JS3 Rapture sailplane gliders into the hold of a passenger Boeing 747-400 and flew them from Johannesburg to Sydney for their onward journey to the FIA World Gliding Championship in Benalla, Victoria.

Normally the sailplanes would have been transported by sea but this was not possible due to timing constraints.

The gliders had to be taken apart into smaller pieces with the fuselage, wings and rudders all packed into specially designed crates.

The Qantas Freight team not only had to calculate if the boxes could fit inside the 747’s belly but if the seven metre long boxes could fit through the door.

Thanks to special crates allowing for 360 degrees of swivel and a lot of pivoting, they did, and with 100mm of clearance between the top of the boxes and the ceiling of the cargo hold, it was a near perfect fit.