John Travolta’s Boeing 707

After writing my last blog post about John Travolta’s 707, I became interested in the history of this classic airliner.
So, here it is. Ladys & Gentlemen fasten your seatbelts, the history of the John Travolta Boeing 707.

His 707-138B was built in 1964, constructed at Boeing Seattle and has Boeing Construction Number 18740 Line 388.

1964 John Travolta was 10 years old. Travolta first became enamored of aviation as a child. He observed the flight paths of the nearest airports, read books on aviation, and took special interest in Constellations, DC-6s and DC-7s. Attesting to his early charisma, he persuaded the girls in his neighborhood to don their Brownie uniforms to play flight attendants as he “captained” his backyard airliner.

On September 10, 1964 first owner became Qantas. It’s registration number became VH-EBM “City of Launceston”. [ Photo ]
It was primary used for routes from Sydney to Asia and North/South America.

Since November 1, 1968 it was withdrawn from use and stored engineless at Sydney Airport. The same year in June it was already cancelled from the Australian Aircraft Register.

On June 7, 1969 new owner became Braniff International Airways. It’s registration number changed to N108BN.

From February 24, 1972 till 1975 it was owned by Frank Sinatra.
During this time, on October 20, 1973, it was again withdrawn from use and stored.

In June 1975 it was sold to Boeing.

In September 1975 it was again sold, this time to Kirk Kerkorian / Tracy Investments Corp (Tracinda / TIC).

Since September 26, 1977 it was owned by TAG Aviation, a holding company based in Luxembourg.

During this time it was also leased to Saudi Arabian Sheikh Akram, for short time.

On August 25, 1981 the 707 was again withdrawn from use, stored at Newark and ferried to Le Bourget for further storage in August 1983.

In December 1983 our 707 returned to service.

In November 1987 it has been sold to Trans Oceanic Aviation.

1988 – 1989 it was out of service again. During this time VIP interior was installed and it was modified with hush kits which converted it to a 707-138B(Q).

In July 1990, with a changed registration number to N707XX it returned to service.

In 1995 the ownage changed again to “Aviation Methods” and was ferried to Istanbul for storage on 29 October 1995.

In September 1996, with only 27,682 of total flying hours, it was offered for sale.

On May 20, 1998 it was finally registered to Jet Clipper Johnny LLC (John Travolta), sold on May 25, and changed registration on December 13, 1998 to N707JT “707 Jett Clipper Ella”. Named after his children “Jett” and “Ella”, Clipper in homage to legendary airline Pan Am, which used/uses “Clipper” in all their aircraft names.

In June 2002, the 707 finally returned home to Qantas, since Travolta participated in the Qantas “Spirit of Friendship” tour, because it was always his dream to be involved with a major airline in some way. He was piloting his own Boeing 707 on a thirteen city, 35,000 mile tour. [ Photo ] He continues as Ambassador-at-Large for the Australia based Qantas Airways. For this campaign the plane was repainted in full classical Qantas “V-Jet” livery. The same livery that was used for the 707’s first flights, back in the old days.

John Travolta is a pilot with a life long passion for aviation. Since earning his wings in 1974, he has logged close to an astounding 5,000 flying hours. Literally every cent of his first paychecks went to flying lessons. He achieved qualification as a captain in the Gulfstream II, Learjet 24, Hawker 1A, Citation 1 and 2, Tebuan and Vampire Jet. He owns the type rating for the Boeing 707 and is certified for SIC privileges (Second In Command). Travolta keeps his skill up-to-date through continual refresher courses, training at American Airlines, SimuFlite and others.

38 thoughts on “John Travolta’s Boeing 707”

  1. Great to see someone like me that loves aviation. Its people that do research like this on Johns plane that make aviation enthusiasts proud…


  2. I was glad to have the oportunity to be a part of this planes history. I was one of the flight crew in the picture above during the 2002 world tour. It is an amasing plane with a colorful past. I hope it last another 40 years


  3. You list John Travolta as having an ATP (Airline Transport Pilot) license. Why then does the FAA list his pilot certificate as a Private Pilot License?

  4. A very interesting, well written article, which answered a lot of questions I had. I love flying, I got my PPL in June 1970 and still fly as often as I can, mainly with my business, and I love to trace the history of aircraft, so this was just up my street. Keep the good work up.


  5. Hello,

    I just finally came online in order to try to figure out if John Travolta’s 707 was originally a Pan Am aircraft. ETs coverage of the Jett Travolta tragedy included a shot of his aircraft “Jett Clipper Ella”. Being an ex Pan Am exployee, it really touched my heart to see his pride in both of his children and obvious knowledge of Pan Am history.

    Pan American World Airways Chairman and Founder Juan Trippe was the first to commission and operate the first commercial U. S. jet. On October 26, 1958, Pan Ams Boeing 707-121 “Clipper America” departed Idlewild Airport bound for Paris.

    I think that was when Pan Am started referring to their aircraft as “Jet Clippers”. I myself did many terminal and boarding announcements “Pan American Jet Clipper Flight Two, Round the World Service to London and points beyond…”.

    Thanks again for doing the research. It is something that I have been curious about for a while. Sheila

  6. Hi,

    If indeed it was the Qantas V-Jet “City of Launceston”, it is the plane my family and I migrated to Australia from England on in April 1965. That trip took us via New York, San Francisco, Honolulu and Fiji and lasted some 36 hours. I was 7. I think I still have my Qantas Junior V-jet Club logbook somewhere – signed by the captain.

    I wrote to Qantas in the mid seventies to ask what happened to the plane and they told me it had been sold to an Asian airline.

    Do you have access to a closeup photo of it from it’s Qantas days?

  7. Hey I saw it at auckland Int. Airport on the 16th April too! Shame I didn’t realise it was his. I overheard some people saying it was John’s but unfortunately didn’t really beleive them at the time. It wasn’t until I got home and googled the image that i realised it was true.
    Does anyone know of web sites were people can see when celebrities are flying in and out of?

  8. I’, an ex Qantas 707, then 747 pilot’-

    I flew this aeroplane on Qanta routes for many years.

    – Would HATE to see it ‘scapped ‘ when John Travolta has
    stopped flying it away from Australia.

    He’s an honourary ‘Qantas Captain ‘ with his personal old 707.

    Qantas has a ‘Volunteer’ Qantas Museum in outback Australia at Longreach where Qantas started.
    – Lots of aircraft and even an early Q-747.

    Is there any way that John Travolta’s ex-Qantas 707 come back to Australia and Longreach ?

  9. Dear Michael,

    You still have people quoting those bogus qualifications you gave Travolta (ATPL), right off this website, when you said over a year ago (20 August 2008) that you needed to get around to correcting what you call “a little bit incorrect” but what a reasonable person might call “totally false and misleading.”

    Have you been too busy to get around to that yet? How about taking a minute to set the record straight with his actual status as a PPL SIC of this beautiful, rich man’s toy? He’s in the news again with his trip to Haiti so that people are reading your article and making an obvious mistake, given that numerous press releases speak of him “piloting” his 707.

    I realize that getting serial numbers and registrations, aircraft history, is more your thing here, when you do a great job with that but pilot qualifications are also important and should be given correctly.


    Chuck Pillette

  10. He was waving out the left winshield after the Haiti flight. My understanding is that he has a private license for 707 co-pilot duties who would sit on the right side. As a private pilot he can not have paying passengers. Am I correct? thanks, John

  11. John Travlota’s 707 is now parked at Lanseria Airport, just outside Johannesburg, South Africa. John and his family arrived in SA last Thursday. John is in South Africa for the FIFA soccer world cup. I live only 15 minutes away from the airport and went out there last Saturday and saw the 707 from about 100 meters – what a beaut! Very sleek and neat!

  12. John, you are correct. Mr Travolta has a PPL with SIC privileges and as such should sit right hand seat. As a private pilot he may not have fare paying passengers. Indeed quotes such as “he piloted his B707…” is incorrect. Typically he will have a crew flying for him, including PIC, and John himself will at most only assume SIC duties. I would assume that his 4 Captains’ stripes on his uniform indicate his status as honourary Captain for Quantas and actually has nothing to do with whether or not he is a qualified and rated 4-liner.

  13. Shelia, I bet that was a great time, I was a professional traveller who spent in excess of 200 days a year on the road from the US to most Pacific Rim countries and a lot of time in Europe. At one poing just after they introduced the Frequent Flyer Point concept I had so many miles American Airlines investigated me to see if I was in some way cheating the system. I was dating an AA employee and they thought she was in some way getting me points I had not earned.

    On the subject of the 707 being the first “Clipper”, if I am not mistaken the first Clipper was Pan Am’s “Connie’s”, the Lockeed Consellations that Juan Tripp bought to move into the South American market. I could be wrong but I recall flying on one in the 50’s and I think I remember it being called Clipper.

    Chuck Pillette, I doubt if any one person on this planet is losing sleep over what Type rating John Travolta has or that Michael has made an error in this fine, informative and comprehensive article. The plane is the focal point here IMO, not John’s license.

    Michael thanks for your effort, great read!

  14. I have found these comments to be very interesting. As a former Pan Am pilot I flew the 707 both as a flight engineer and later as a captain. I also flew the 727 as a copilot and the 747 as both a copilot and a captain.

    I think the first Pan Am planes to carry the name “Clipper” were the Sikorsky S-42 flying boats.

    I flew 17 years out of New York. Shiela probably announced the departure of my flights many times! Those were the days, weren’t they?

    There is a fairly well-known painting of the first 707 departure from New York to Paris. In the background are the International Arrivals Building and the Pan Am Worldport, then under construction. I was working for another airline at the time but went out to Idlewild to watch that historical departure and stood in a cold drizzle for 45 minutes before the plane took off. The ceiling was about 700 feet and I only saw the plane airborne for about 15 seconds!

    If you look closely at the painting you can see me on the roof of the International Arrivals Building, at the end of it.

    Well, maybe not. An obvious oversight by the artist.

  15. I love this aircraft,
    Why? well in 1967 I was a young engineer with a new British Aircraft Maintenance Licence and worked for British Eagle, Eagle decided to buy some 707-138’s from Qantas and I was chosen with others to go to Australia to study the Aircraft and gain the practical experience prior to gaining a licence extension upon return to England.
    When I was there we attended aircrew training, while they flew we studied and fixed things when they landed, whilst talking to the Qantas trainer’s between flight’s I mentioned the story I had heard of ‘Tex’ Johnston who rolled a 707 on a demo flight to prospective customers, after a pause the pilot made the comment “What makes you think he’s the only one who’s done that” or word’s to that effect, no more was said.
    I went on to gain every 707 varient on the British Register and a Flight Engineers licence as well prior to their final replacement, this aircraft paid my mortgage for the best part of my working life (now retired) and it all started with the B707-138, thanks Mr. Boeing,
    John must love it.

  16. Irrespective of his qualifications “anyone” can get an ATPL (Air Transport Pilot License) if they cough up the cash. It costs $85K Australian to do an ATPL at any one of the colleges, RMIT or Swinburne in Melbourne for example, along with Point Cook Airforce base or Moorabbin airport flight training to CPL standard (Commercial Pilot License) and ATPL subjects. It takes just 12 months from being an absolute nobody who has never seen an aircraft to get through 160 hours CPL training and the CASA ATPL subjects. You are then issued with a “frozen” ATPL which becomes active after completing a further 1500 flying hours. I am sure John Travolta has completed at least a CPL if not an ATPL. He has gained Captain status with Qantas training in Australia, one of the most prized airline pilot qualifications in the world, it is not just honourary as I understand it and not every pilot has the chance to get it. And Pla-eeeese, the people claiming to be jet pilots here, like Keith Stewart, you need to be a little more convincing than that. I am not a pilot but know enough about PPLs, CPL’s ATPLS’ both rotary wing (Helicopter) and Fixed wing, the training programmes and the terminology to easily convince people I am a qualified Qantas 747 pilot. I’m not. By the way, if you really do want to be a jet pilot, Qantas’ low cost airline Jetstar (Australia’s One Star Airline ha ha), is offering an 18 month cadet course straight into the right hand seat of an A320 Airbus. That’s a First officer, skipping all the regional airlines. They prefer that you have never seen an aircraft before. The catch is it is self funding to the tune of $160K, 18 months training and bonding to the airline for 6 years. The first $80K is a government loan at 20% interest paid back over the first six years. The second $80K is paid by Jetstar provided you stay 6 years. You also get paid up to $100K less than an equivalent A320 pilot working for its big brother Qantas. ($100K as opposed to $200K) Maybe John can apply for that?

  17. Excellent comments by all subscribers, I don’t know how qualified John Travolta is as far as air transport pilot is but it would seem he know’s what he’s doing in the cockpit, personally I like the 707 as opposed to the 747 (a much more streamlined aircraft) & talking about “clippers” what about the boing 737 strato-clipper that figure 8 fuseage section aircraft that had a habit of throwing blades off props (mid-pacific). we had a look over one at sydney (mascot) in those days, a guy came up through the floor & said to my mom in his american accent “uh, don’t step back maam” see you up there…..

  18. I just caught a glimpse of this plane today. It is sitting right now at Republic Airport in Farmingdale, Long Island, New York. Except for the tail (still V-Jet) it is dressed in vintage Pan Am colors and is being used to shoot footage for the Pan Am television series.

  19. Just wanted to mention that John Travolta’s plane was used during an episode of the Pan Am television series. It was the plane that made an emergency landing at Haiti.

  20. How does a liberal like John Travolta justify flying a large plane, for family and friends, that consumes so much fuel. Why not fly “First Class” now and then? How much food and medical care would one trip buy for the poor and underclass, he and other “Rich Liberals” claim that the conservatives overlook. He’s in the 1%, making $20,000,000.00 per movie. Don’t. just “Talk the Talk.”

  21. Pretty cool history, thanks for writing it out. I always wondered how John Travolta got to fly under the Quantas brand. If I had that much money, I would have my own airstrip too. He deserves it.