Saturday, 17 March 2012

Saved from the dustbin (3)

Thanks to my former colleagues Bert Besseling and Aris Zwart, a large number of old pictures have been saved from destruction. One way or another they all relate to KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. You may read the details of this find in 'dustbin #1'. To enlarge a picture please click on it.

Obviously KLM carried its share of celebrities. Some arrived at what was then known as the Municipal Airport of Amsterdam, Schiphol. The gentleman pictured below is Henry Ford II. Presumably, and also based on the presence of a KLM official I happen to have know, this picture is possibly taken on June 29, 1954 when Mr. Ford arrived in the KLM Dakota C-47A PH-DAT. At the time he was touring the European Ford factories.
Henry Ford II descending the Dakota stairs at Schiphol Airport.
The second man from the right is D.J.M. (Dick) Koek, a KLM Cargo Executive.

(My thanks to Hans Kindl for also identifying our colleague.)
Another celebrity was famous English science fiction author H.G. Wells (1866-1946). One of his more well known novels was/is The war of the worlds. In 2005 Steven Spielberg used this book as the basis for a movie with the same title.
H.G. Wells boarding a KLM aircraft in Calcutta.
The plane is either a pre war DC2 or DC3*.
Seeing giant aircraft, such as the Boeing 747-400 and the Airbus A380, taking off from 10,000 ft long runways, is an impressive sight. In comparison the picture below looks like it has been taken on Hollands' miniature city airport Madurodam in The Hague. The aircraft, a Lockheed Constellation, looks like a toy plane on a runway which was considerably shorter  than 10,000 feet. 
KLM Lockheed Constellation 749A, the PH-TDI 'Enschede'
on Schiphol runway 14-32 (SE-NW) probably in 1949.
 The Schiphol runway system developed from a prewar simple grass strip to a more sophisticated multi runway operation in the years shortly after the second world war. The picture below must have been taken in the early fifties. In any case it cannot be shot earlier as the Fokker aircraft factory is already visible. The factory moved to Schiphol from the northern part of Amsterdam in 1951.
Schiphol (East) Airport in the early fifties seen from the south east.
The dark line below is the Ringvaart (Circular Canal); the Fokker factory
is the building with 'Fokker' written on the roof. On the top right hand of
the picture, the village of Badhoevedorp is visible.
Update June 3, 2016: According to Dick Weber of the Crash 40-45 Museum, the above picture has not been taken in the early fifties. He says it is pre war and the Fokker building does not belong to the factory. Instead it is a shed belonging to Flight Services. Whose deed!

Since those days the development of Schiphol didn't stop. The picture below was taken from the ISS space station by Dutch astronaut André Kuipers on March 12, 2012.
The Schiphol runways (r) seen from an altitude of approx. 220 miles.
The Port of Amsterdam is on the left. Enlarging the picture clearly reveals
the Ringvaart and the old location now called Schiphol East.
The current airport is situated at Schiphol Center.
Foto ex Flickr, courtesy ESA/NASA.
Like ships aircraft are being baptized as well, usually also with champaign. Aircraft names can be anything. In KLM celebrities, geographical names and birds have served in the past to also identify aircraft. There are always certain ceremonial festivities involved. 
The KLM Douglas DC4 PH-TCF was baptized 'Friesland'.
Very appropriately a Frisian folk dance group was invited for the
celebrations at Leeuwarden Airport on August 23, 1946.
If you recognize members of this group, please let me know by making a remark via 'reacties' below. I may be wrong but I think the man with the grey coat (l) is Mr. Albert Plesman, KLM's founder.

Update March 18, 2012 The Frisian Historical Centre 'Tresoar' pointed out to me that the 'Friesland' was baptized at the airport of Leeuwarden, not at Schiphol. So that has been corrected. Also they suppose that the folk dance group is the skotsplouch either from Leeuwarden or Bolsward.

*Update Oct. 28, 2014 I received a comment from Mr. Joop Witbaard. Mr. Witbaard is a former radio operator later combining this with being a navigator as well. He worked for KLM and is now 85 years old. He can therefore be called an old hand in this business.
There was some doubt about the type of aircraft H.G. Wells was boarding. Mr. Witbaard tells me the aircraft is a DC3 and more in particular the PH-ALT Torenvalk (kestrel). The pre-war DC3 was fitted with the passenger entrance on the right hand side as opposed to the DC2 where it was on the left.
Thank you, Mr. Witbaard!

1 comment:

  1. I like the idea to babtise the plane with pomp and circumstance. Those costumes the ladies are wearing must be Friesian regional costumes, they look very nice.
    Perhaps you could find a picture of the Super Constellation PH-TD Gouda, on which one of its flights
    I was a passenger in 1952? It would be fantastic if you could.


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