Jumbo History

The idea of the Jumbo flight originated in early 1973 (only five years after the Rotary Club of Turramurra was chartered) and was instigated by the Club's Community Service Committee, headed by Neil Brigden. At a meeting at Neil's home numerous suggestions were discussed to raise money for community projects or projects to benefit the community. One member, Ross Blackmore, suggested giving handicapped and disadvantaged children a day out and the idea of chartering an aircraft for a sight-seeing trip around Sydney to raise funds for local community projects was born.

Captain Alan Terrell, the QANTAS flight operations Manager at the time and a member of Turramurra Rotary, was at that meeting and suggested that he might approach the General Manager of Qantas, Mr. Bert Richie, to charter a new Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet, which was just coming into service with Qantas at that time. Bert agreed it was a good project and suggested the project should be run by the Rotary Club of Sydney of which he was a member. Rotary fairness prevailed and the Rotary Club of Turramurra Jumbo project resulted.

QANTAS kept charter costs to a minimum. The crews were all QANTAS volunteers, the first flight was captained by Alan Terrell and was a great success. Since 1973 the flights have been arranged annually and have transported more than 13,000 children.

To raise funds for the charter an appeal to members of the public was made, suggesting at the outset a $20.00 donation to sponsor a child on the flight. The first year's charter cost was $1,478.46. (As a comparison, another Turramurra Rotary community project back in 1973 involved a small community bus being bought for Meal on Wheels his cost the Club $1,754.00). A profit was made which was then given to children's organisations which deal with handicapped and disadvantaged children.

To help reduce costs Ampol was approached in 1974 to help support the project in the form of fuel for the flight. Ampol/Caltex has been very generous and supplied all fuel from 1974 to 2007, Federal Airports Corporation (now Sydney Airport Corporation) has waived all airport charges including landing charges, and Airservices Australia have in past years waived airway charges.The costs of the flight have increased substantially since 1973 but with the support received from suggested donation to sponsor a child has been kept to $30.00.

In 1979 Turramurra Rotary asked Qantas Pathfinders to man the aircraft (Pathfinders is a group of Qantas flight crew who are very active in raising funds for their charity, The Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children) . Pathfinders willingly accepted and Rotary now allocates 40 seats on the Jumbo Flight for children from the Institute. Additionally, since 1983 the Pathfinders assist with the ground handling and ticketing for the flights. Rotary and the Pathfinders enjoy their work together in this project.

Over the years the charter costs rose until they reached $18,000.00 when, in 1996, a Turramurra Rotary member and employee of Qantas, Ross Warden, approached the Chairman of Qantas, Mr. James Strong, suggesting that the charter cost might be waived. This was agreed as long as there was no operational conflict with the scheduled Qantas operations. Qantas continues to waive all charter costs.

The flight is usually of little over one hour's duration, usually flying low over Sydney landmarks, along the beaches and over the harbour. After the flight the children are given a gift pack with goodies in it donated by many organisations including Qantas Catering, Sydney Swans and McDonalds.

Many celebrities over the years have welcomed or entertained the children before boarding. These celebrities have included members of the Sydney Swans, St.George Dragon, Pat Rafter, Ian Thorpe, Humphrey B Bear and Leyton Hewitt . Ronald McDonald usually entertains the children with a "pocket show" before boarding. As the flight is usually towards the end of the year Santa Clause greets the children with a present as they leave the flight.

Many months of hard work by members of the Rotary club are rewarded by the smiles and expression of joy as the children leave the flight.

The children are usually nominated for the flight by children's organizations such as, Camp Breakaway, the Exodus Foundation, Karonga School, the Royal Institute for Deaf & Blind Children, the Shepherd Centre, the Merry Makers, the Spastic Centre of NSW and Vacation Camp for Disadvantaged Children, to mention a few, and nominations are also received from other Rotary Clubs and on behalf of individual children who are sick or handicapped.

The Rotary Club receives many letters of appreciation from the children or their organizations expressing their gratitude for the fun day out. Reports from many of the children's teachers state that for many weeks after the flight the children express their appreciation of the flight and talk over their experiences. The flight also makes these children special in the eyes of their peers.

The Mission Statement for this community project is:The Rotary Club of Turramurra to provide annually a joy flight for handicapped and disadvantaged children in a Jumbo Jet Aircraft.
  • To source funds from the public and corporations to fund the annual flight.
  • To distribute excess funds collected to organizations associated with handicapped and disadvantaged children.
  • Use this project to promote the work of Rotary International and in particular The Rotary Club of Turramurra to the community.
You can help by sponsoring a seat for a child on the Jumbo by donating just $40.00

Donations can be made: Donate2

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The Rotary Club of Turramurra
PO Box 77

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