World's biggest remote-controlled jumbo jet replica meets full-sized Qantas 747
IT was a sight nearly three years in the making: the world’s biggest radio-controlled jumbo jet sharing the tarmac at Perth Airport with a full-sized Qantas 747 400.
Darlington man Andrew Herzfeld, who built the 5.6m long, 5.2m wide, 65kg replica Boeing 747, said it was a dream come true.
“It was an amazing opportunity from an aero modeller’s point of view: it was just the pinnacle of my experience with the hobby,” he said.
The “queen of the sky”, the 747 400, has always held a fascination for Mr Herzfeld.
“On many occasions I have been overawed by the sheer size of the aircraft and how it is possible for 360 tonnes of metal to be able to fly,” he said.
“To be able to place my model alongside the real deal and have the opportunity to show my model to the crew of the QANTAS 747 was an amazing experience.”
Mr Herzfeld, president of WA’s model jet aircraft association Westjet, built the model from scratch over two years using scaled-down plans of the full size Boeing design.
It has navigation lighting, retractable undercarriage and onboard computers to control the miniature jet turbine engines that can push it to a top speed of more than 300km/h.
Made from polystyrene foam, balsa wood and fibreglass, Mr Herzfeld said his best critic was his now eight-year-old son who made sure every detail was to the highest of standards.
He has flown the replica from the Wagin airfield five times since gaining approval from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
Mr Herzfeld said there were a lot of people involved in making the meeting of the model and the full-sized version a reality, including airport security and Qantas staff.
With their help he was able to position the model on the tarmac and then watch as the full-sized jet landed and pulled up alongside, staying for more than three hours before taking off again.
“It was quite an amazing opportunity for me as an aero modeller to have this one put up alongside the full-sized one and actually let the captains of that aircraft have a look at it and speak to them,” he said.
“I got a few photos with them and the model and I also got up into the cockpit of the full-sized one and had a bit of a seat in the captain’s seat.”
Building model aircraft has been a passion for Mr Herzfeld for more than 40 years, beginning as a child folding paper planes and launching them off the verandah at his family home.
“Having lived through many traumatic events throughout my life including metastatic cancer severe depression and other social issues, having the passion of model aircraft has helped me along the way to be not just a survivor but a thriver,” he said.