It was the British who operated the first scheduled transatlantic jet flights, though it was a close call. BOAC flew the Comet 4 across on 4 October 1958, followed by Pan American with their Boeing 707 on 26 October 1958. Who was third though?
Considering the aircraft manufacturers were British or American, flying between Europe and the United States, you’d probably expect it to be French perhaps, maybe German, or even another US carrier. The truth will surprise you!
Third With Jets Across The Atlantic
To figure out who it might be, we need to delve deep into the Boeing order book. The first clue is an order from 6 September 1956 for seven of the up and coming Boeing 707 aircraft.
This order was the first order of the 707 from an airline outside the United States. This means the third airline across the Atlantic was not from the USA.
Deliveries of the Boeing 707 to this airline outside the USA commenced on 2 July 1959. They started services from New York Idlewild to London Heathrow on 6 September 1959.
The inaugural service from Sydney to London via Nadi in Fiji, Honolulu, San Francisco and New York was operated by VH-EBA. This was the first Boeing 707 for Qantas, Australia’s international airline. Australia? What are the chances!
It certainly surprised me when I found out that Qantas was the third airline operating jets across the Atlantic. There is no real reason for them to do so nowadays but back then, multiple stop routes were very common, such as the glamourous Qantas flight 580.
Happily, the aircraft that operated that first service for Qantas across the Atlantic still exists today. You can visit it at the Qantas Founders Museum in Longreach, Australia. That is a museum well worth the visit!
Did you already know who was third with jets across the Atlantic or is this news to you? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.
Featured image of Pan Am 707 and BOAC VC10 from 1972 by Mick West via Airliner.net