Topic Author
Posts: 2511
Joined: Wed Jan 05, 2000 3:11 am

...Most People On A Jet?

Wed May 03, 2000 12:08 pm

I know I read something about a 747 carrying 640 some out of an evac.zone some time, but don't remember how many, where, or when. Anyone know the official record holder (and the real one)???

RE: ...Most People On A Jet?

Wed May 03, 2000 12:23 pm

El Al airlifted about 1000 Jews out of Ethiopia 10 or 15 years ago on one of their 747's. I believe that is the world record, but I don't know the precise headcount.
Posts: 7629
Joined: Fri Feb 18, 2000 3:12 pm

RE: ...Most People On A Jet?

Wed May 03, 2000 12:29 pm

Just for comparision I remember reading that JAL's and ANA 747-300/400SRs seat about 620.
Stop drop and roll will not save you in hell. --- seen on a church marque in rural Virginia
Posts: 438
Joined: Mon May 24, 1999 11:24 am

RE: ...Most People On A Jet?

Wed May 03, 2000 12:33 pm

Yes this was the world record for the most people on a flight. It was a relief mission as mentioned above, a side note to add to the story was the plane actually landed with one more passenger than it took off with. There was a child that was born on the flight. If I remember reading right all the interior was removed to be able to hold this many people. Also I believe there were a few other planes that were a part of this mission.


Posts: 4251
Joined: Thu Feb 17, 2000 9:58 am

RE: ...Most People On A Jet?

Wed May 03, 2000 12:35 pm

747-600X, I think you are thinking about the Qantas 747 that carried around that amount out of Darwin some years ago because of a hurricane that hit the city hard. I dont have any more info, but that is what you're probably thinking about. I do think that the El Al Ethiopia thing is the record, though. Interesting about the child born.

Aaron G.

Cyclone Tracey

Wed May 03, 2000 1:29 pm

Cyclone Tracey hit Darwin on Christmas Day, 1974. Up until 31 December some 25,000 people were evacuated out by air, and 7,000 by road.

A Qantas 747 airlifted 673 people out of Darwin taking them to shelter in Sydney.

Samurai 777
Posts: 2000
Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2000 2:56 pm

This Was The Cyclone Tracy Evacuation

Wed May 03, 2000 1:30 pm

The 747 carrying 648 people(that was the real headcount) was the one doing the evacuation flight out of Darwin on Dec. 24, 1974, before Cyclone Tracy hit on that fateful Christmas Day. It landed in Sydney.

The Ethiopian relief flight appears to take the prize, but in order to do that, the interior'd have to be removed until it's no different than a 747 cargo jet. Otherwise, there's no way a 747 could've carried a thousand and one people.

BTW, my parents and I were living in Canberra, the federal capital of Australia, at that time when Darwin got hit by the cyclone (that's what hurricanes are called there, mate).


Samurai 777
Posts: 2000
Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2000 2:56 pm

673, Not 648!

Wed May 03, 2000 1:49 pm

Brissie Lions is right, and I'm wrong - the number of people who were on the Qantas 747 airlift out of Darwin. It was 673 people, not 648! This is confirmed on Qantas' website in its history section. That should stop any potential arguments about the accuracy.

RE: ...Most People On A Jet?

Wed May 03, 2000 4:49 pm

A Discovery Channel special on the 747, indicated 1100 people were on a 747 evacuating people out of a war in Zaire.(I hope I have the country right) It said 3 people were born on the flight.

Craig M
Posts: 293
Joined: Sat Jan 01, 2000 8:44 pm

RE: ...Most People On A Jet?

Thu May 04, 2000 3:33 am

I heard that 1200 were airlifted out of Botswana on an An124 and 8 were born on the 30 minutes flight...

Just kidding!
Posts: 968
Joined: Sun Dec 05, 1999 7:03 am

RE: ...Most People On A Jet?

Thu May 04, 2000 3:51 am

What if Southwest flew 747s? Could they squeeze 900 people onto one of those? I sure bet they'd try!
Topic Author
Posts: 2511
Joined: Wed Jan 05, 2000 3:11 am


Thu May 04, 2000 4:13 am

Basically what you're saying is no one knows but it was a heck of a lot?

That Ethiopian Flight

Sun May 07, 2000 11:07 am

YEG 757 wrote:
El Al airlifted about 1000 Jews out of Ethiopia 10 or 15 years ago on one of their 747's. I believe that is the world record, but I don't know the precise headcount.

According to the El Al website (milestones) it was 1087 people. Date of the flight was May 24, 1991.
Posts: 346
Joined: Fri Mar 10, 2000 7:58 pm

RE: ...Most People On A Jet?

Sun May 07, 2000 11:20 am

I read of a 727 that carried over 400 on a mercy flight in South America. The aircraft was rammed and shot at during its take off roll, the wheel wells and baggage holds were filled with people, one baggage door was left open, some of the trailing flaps were damaged by gunfire and ramming, the captain levelled off at about 1500 feet and kept the speed low to protect the exposed passengers. I saw the airbourne pic and story in Airliners or Airways magazine.
Topic Author
Posts: 2511
Joined: Wed Jan 05, 2000 3:11 am

RE: ...Most People On A Jet?

Sun May 07, 2000 1:04 pm

And you thought ATA was good at cramming people in!
User avatar
Posts: 1564
Joined: Mon Oct 25, 1999 11:31 am

RE: ...Most People On A Jet?

Sun May 07, 2000 1:54 pm

Dnalor, I read that article also, I believe that was in South East Asia (Vietnam??) and it was an aircraft belonging to World Airways...quite impressive, just shows how tough and versatile the 727 is.


Cyclone Tracy .. A Magazine Article Extract

Mon May 08, 2000 3:10 am

I knew I had an article on that Cyclone Tracy disaster in Darwin, Australia in one of my old aviation magazines ... a slow Sunday meant I had time to look for it, and here it is:

AIRLIFT! The Darwin Rescue

Devastation, death and destruction. Hardened aircrews taking in part in one of modern history's greatest mercy airlifts winced as they gazed out over what had once been a thriving city - Darwin, the city which died when nature ran amuck on Christmas Day, 1974.

More than 25,000 people were airlifted out of the devastation in the first six days of the rescue operation by a massive fleet of aircraft consisting of Lockheed Hercules, DHC Caribous, BAC 1-11s, C-141 Starlifters, Boeing 727s, 707s, 747s, Douglas DC-9s, Fokker F.27s and F.28s and a host of smaller aircraft drawn from the air forces of Australia, New Zealand and the United States, as well as from airlines such as Qantas, TAA, and Ansett. Also playing a major role were the smaller airlines and general aviation operators.

Many Australian and world records for numbers uplifted on individual flights were shattered during the airlift which fanned out from Darwin to the four corners of Australasia.

A typical Hercules load was 135 people including stretcher cases; on a Boeing 707 up to 303 passengers were accommodated (the normal seating was 156); and Starlifters evacuated up to 353 people on each flight.

But the Boeing 747s shattered all records for uplifting passengers. On three flights into Sydney these aircraft carried respectively 633, 699, and an incredible 708, which is believed to be an alltime world record.

Night curfews on jet movements in Sydney were withdrawn for the duration of the airlift.

On northbound journeys to Darwin all aircraft carried capacity loads of volunteer helpers, doctors, and nurses, as well as urgently-needed supplies of medical equipment, clothing and food donated on an unprecendented scale private individuals and the Federal and State governments.

The 22kg per person maximum baggage allowance posed no real problem as most evacuees had lost all their possessions when Cyclone Tracy swept through the sleeping city.

No-one knows exactly to what speed the cyclone's winds peaked, but before instruments at the local weather office were smashed a recording of 259 kph was registered.

As a direct result of the colossal damage to hospitals and homes - some were literally wiped off the face of the earth - lack of water and power and the threat of disease, the director of Australia's Natural Disaster Committee, Major-General A.B. Stratton, ordered the immediate evacuation of between 50 and 65% of the total population using every available civil and military aircraft in the country.

As the massive airlift swung into action, 3,000 people were evacuated on Boxing Day and this figure was increased to 6,500 the following day and still further to 7,500 on the 28th.

Reception areas set up to care for arriving evacuees at major airports and military air bases were reminiscent of post-war European refugee camps.

No single event since the outbreak of World War II and the Japanese bombing of Darwin has so united the Australian nation as this disaster.

[source : Henry Krug : World Airnews, February 1975]

That max. pax figure doesn't agree with the one on the Qantas website, but I guess it doesn't matter anyway - the El Al uplift of Ethiopians in 1991 was far greater!

Hope this article extract helps to paint a picture for those who were too young to remember this particular disaster & rescue (which includes me!).

Popular Searches On Airliners.net

Top Photos of Last:   24 Hours  •  48 Hours  •  7 Days  •  30 Days  •  180 Days  •  365 Days  •  All Time

Military Aircraft Every type from fighters to helicopters from air forces around the globe

Classic Airliners Props and jets from the good old days

Flight Decks Views from inside the cockpit

Aircraft Cabins Passenger cabin shots showing seat arrangements as well as cargo aircraft interior

Cargo Aircraft Pictures of great freighter aircraft

Government Aircraft Aircraft flying government officials

Helicopters Our large helicopter section. Both military and civil versions

Blimps / Airships Everything from the Goodyear blimp to the Zeppelin

Night Photos Beautiful shots taken while the sun is below the horizon

Accidents Accident, incident and crash related photos

Air to Air Photos taken by airborne photographers of airborne aircraft

Special Paint Schemes Aircraft painted in beautiful and original liveries

Airport Overviews Airport overviews from the air or ground

Tails and Winglets Tail and Winglet closeups with beautiful airline logos