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Tuesday, 25 June, 2002, 07:51 GMT 08:51 UK
Travolta pilots friendship mission
John Travolta in his aeroplane cockpit
Travolta has been flying since the age of 16
Actor John Travolta is to pilot a jet on a worldwide goodwill tour after completing a training course with airline Qantas.

The Hollywood star, who described himself as "an airline geek", said he wanted to reach across continents with friendship after the attacks on the US on 11 September.

John Travolta in pilot's uniform
The star has clocked up 5,000 flying hours in 20 years
He will fly his vintage Boeing 707 to 10 countries after being presented with Qantas golden wings and being named the company's "ambassador-at-large".

The actor said it was "one of the proudest days of my life" when he was presented with the wings, and it meant as much to him as his two Oscar nominations.

Travolta - who began flying at the age of 16 - successfully completed 747-400 First Officer simulator training with Qantas, and will embark on the mission on 1 July.

"I'm undertaking this tour to extend the hand of friendship - to reach out, to cross borders, make contact, rekindle friendships and make new friends," he said.

He will fly his Boeing 707, which Qantas has agreed to decorate in its original 1960s livery.

'Spirit of Friendship'

His destinations will include the United States, Australia, London, Tokyo, Singapore and Paris.

He teamed up with Qantas after embarking on a flying promotional tour for a recent film, Swordfish, just before 11 September.

After the success of that trip, he told the airline that if they returned his plane to its original colours, he would fly around the world to promote the company.

But they widened the scope of the trip to turn it into a Spirit of Friendship mission after the attacks on New York and Washington.

Attitude

Travolta, star of films including Pulp Fiction and Saturday Night Fever, earned his jet pilot's licence in 1981 and has flown for a total of 5,000 hours.

"Besides my serious attitude toward flying, I have to admit something to all of you, I am an airline geek," he said.

He named his son Jett - but said his wife Kelly Preston would not let him call their daughter Qantas.

"Personally, I can not think of a better ambassador for Qantas than John," said the company's chief executive officer Geoff Dixon, who pinned the wings to Travolta's blue pilot uniform.

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