Boeing Frontiers
August 2002 
Volume 01, Issue 04 
Top Stories Inside Quick Takes Site Tools
Boeing in the News
'Captain' Travolta pilots goodwill for Qantas

John TravoltaTruth is stranger than pulp fiction, wrote Everett (Wash.) Herald business columnist Bryan Corliss when covering Qantas' June announcement that it had hired actor John Travolta as its flying "Ambassador-at-Large." Travolta will conduct the worldwide "Spirit of Friendship" tour — which kicked off in July and flies through late August — in his private Boeing 707, which is painted in the Australian carrier's original 1960s livery for the trip. The tour involves about 80 flying hours and covers more than 35,000 nautical miles, the airline said.

Known for his TV and motion picture work, Travolta is well-qualified to be in a jet cockpit. Besides being a licensed 707 pilot, he also recently completed 747-400 First Officer simulator training at Boeing facilities in Seattle, said Qantas officials. Travolta's tour — which includes visits to 13 cities in 10 countries — is designed to show that the air travel industry is alive and well, the actor said. "The past year has been awful for our sense of security and goodwill," said Travolta. "I'm undertaking this tour to extend the hand of friendship."

An aviation enthusiast since childhood, Travolta bought the former Qantas 707 four years ago.

First pop star in space?

Russian space officials softened their tough line on the much-hyped plans for a commercial flight to the International Space Station by N'Sync star Lance Bass, reported recently. In fact, the British news agency Reuters says that Bass has signed an initial deal to join the Russian mission, officially becoming a "candidate." If he secures a final contract, 23-year-old Bass would become the third fare-paying tourist to venture into space aboard a Russian craft, after U.S. millionaire Dennis Tito and South African entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth.

"Considering our tough economic situation, we believe it would be an inadmissible luxury to use the third seat on the coming October flight for cargo," said a top official at Rosaviakosmos, the Russian Aviation and Space Agency, in an interview last month. The official said his agency wanted to get a clearer understanding of the "financial side" of Bass' bid and has asked for some sort of guarantee that the flight would be paid for. The decision to explore the possibility of Bass' flight was based on the idea that the $20 million joy ride would have a corporate sponsor, he said.

A source recently told that Bass and all parties involved remained hopeful that the entertainer would be on board when the Soyuz takes off for the ISS this fall. The source confirmed that some money has changed hands, but declined to provide specifics. The Rosaviakosmos official acknowledged that the time remaining for Bass to prepare for the flight was "very tight." He said his agency would appeal to its ISS partners for their approval just to "get the ball rolling" and to be prepared in the event that the financial arrangements prove acceptable. Boeing is the ISS' prime contractor.

In early July, Bass began training in Russia at Star City near Moscow. MTV News reported that as part of his training, Bass would be dropped into the Black Sea for an emergency-splashdown test. He was also to be left in a Russian forest without food and supplies. Bass has undergone at least two medical examinations and is now doing a round of intensive training at Russian space facilities.


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