James Strong among six new inductees to Australian Aviation Hall of Fame

James Strong

Former Qantas chief executive James Strong has been named as one of six new inductees into the Australian Aviation Hall of Fame (AAHOF).

Strong, a towering figure in the local aviation scene, oversaw the transformation of Trans Australia Airlines (TAA) into Australian Airlines as its chief executive from 1986 and 1989.

Then, as chief executive of Qantas between 1993-2001, he led the airline through the merger with Australian and its eventual privatisation.

He also returned to Qantas as a non-executive director in 2006.

Qantas named its first retro roo Boeing 737-800 VH-XZP in his honour in 2014, with the aircraft painted in Qantas’s iconic ochre colour scheme of the 1970s and early 1980s featuring a bowtie decal on the nose.

Jeane-Claude Strong with Alan Joyce and Qantas crew in front of a bowtie decal on VH-XZP’s nose in James Strong’s honour. (Seth Jaworski)
Jeane-Claude Strong with Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce and Qantas crew in front of a bowtie decal on VH-XZP’s nose in James Strong’s honour in November 2014. (Seth Jaworski)

Strong died in 2013.

The airline he led, TAA, was also named as an AAHOF inductee alongside four other individuals.

The full list of of inductees is:
– Edward Connellan, founder of Connellan Airways in 1943;
– John Corby, aviation engineer and designer of the Corby Starlet;
– James Strong, former Qantas chief executive and non-executive director
– Bob Tait, renowned aviation educator and pilot;
– Nancy-Bird Walton, the youngest woman to obtain a commercial licence in the British Empire and founder of the Australian Women Pilots’ Association.
– Trans Australian Airlines

The official induction ceremony will take place at a dinner to be held at the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) at Illawarra Regional Airport, Albion Park on Saturday November 25.

“These five outstanding individuals and TAA join thirty seven other individuals and six organizations in the Hall of Fame,” AAHOF chairman Steve Padgett said in a statement on Wednesday.

“All have made quite magnificent contributions in their respective fields for the major benefit of Australia, particularly regional and remote Australia.”

In June, AAHOF said it would establish a permanent home at Illawarra Regional Airport after striking an agreement with HARS.

Established seven years ago, the AAHOF seeks to recognise those who have contributed to Australia’s great aviation and aerospace record while inspiring young people to become involved in the industry.


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