Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Saved from the dustbin (5)

Digging for treasures in old shoeboxes is a sport not everyone is familiar with. But being a genealogist I can get really excited about boxes that have collected dust on dark lofts for decades. Letters and pictures from long dead ancestors often shed a new light on facts of which the whole family thought they meant something completely different or were not known at all. However, shoeboxes are not the exclusive territory of genealogists. Sometimes shoeboxes come in the form of neglected plastic bags in dark office corners and containing hundreds of pictures. Pictures shot during a not too distant past but overtaken by technical developments with such a speed that we can only look at them with amazement. A couple of those are shown below. For the origin of these pictures, please see at the end of this post.

The first one shows a not so current aircraft fuelling method. You pick up a barrel, hoist it on the wing, open up the barrel, turn it around and empty it into the wingtank. And then you wait until the chlou, chlou sound stops. It's as simple as that. But can you imagine fuelling a B747-400 this way? That bird takes almost 64,000 US gallons (241,500 liters). You would need a week or so...
Fuelling of the DC3 PH-ALN 'Nandoe' 
at Dum Dum airport near Calcutta in the late thirties.
I am quite convinced that todays aircraft are capable of flying without any human interference. And that includes take off and landing. I am equally convinced that the reason it's not being done, is of a psychological nature. Airline passengers probably aren't ready yet for experiments of that kind. However, the first step in that development is shown here. Whether it will ultimately make the profession of pilot superfluous remains to be seen.
KLM captains Scholte and Viruly (r) inspecting KLM's first automatic
pilot. It had its try out on the Amsterdam-Oslo route.
I think that polishing a propellor blade is a very meticulous job. If the shape of one of the blades deviates only slightly from the others, I can imagine that vibrations occur that have a detrimental effect on the functioning of the propellor. But how this was checked, I don't know.
Polishing a propellor blade.
Being on the subject of propellors, I feel this photo of a DC3 is just a nice, almost heroic picture. 
DC3 Dakota PH-ALI 'Ibis' in the late thirties. This aircraft was probably
flown to the UK in the early stages of WWII. It was shot down over the
Bay of Biscay by German fighter aircraft on June 1, 1943.
I am not an expert in these matters but I believe that still today, aircraft have to be capable of flying at half power. The Dakota below is showing just that with its starboard engine switched off.
The DC3 Dakota PH-ARY 'IJsvogel' was in KLM-service for just eight
months. It crashed at Schiphol Airport on November 14, 1938.
Two passengers and four crew were killed in the 'IJsvogel'-crash. The plane crashed in the Riekerpolder, situated south of the former village of Sloten. Today this is part of Amsterdam.
From: Algemeen Handelsblad, November 15, 1938
ex Koninklijke Bibliotheek
Thanks to my former colleagues Bert Besseling and Aris Zwart, the above pictures, and many more, 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'. Details pertaining to KLM aircraft and Dutch aviation are derived from the unsurpassed website of Herman Dekker.
To enlarge a picture please click on it.


  1. Beautiful pictures, and thanks to Aris and Bert for saving them from the dustbin; and thanks to you Peter for commenting and sharing them with us.
    Especially the DC-3 with one engine idle is a nice one. Incidentally the number of engines that may be u/s on take-off is defined by the ‘Obstacle Clearance Requirement’ that requires that an aircraft shall clear all obstacles by at least 35 feet vertically etc…as the graph below shows.

    Therefore it’s different for every a/c as well as airport, taking into consideration also airfield pressure altitude, temperature, runwaylength, headwind, and the different a/c weights (takeoffweight, zero-fuelweight, landing weight)which have to be calculatet individually
    Therefore a DC-7 could under circumstances make it on one engine only.

  2. ...and yet another nicety of the DC-3. Did you know that you can crank-up the engine like the oldtimer-cars?! I din't until I had to do it: In the early sixties KLM run a cargo DC-3 every Saturday SPL/VIE/LNZ/SPL. One very cold winterday in Linz, where I handled the a/c the engines would not start; so the captain asked me to crank it up. I thought he is pulling my leg, until he trew out the crank from the cockpit. Tell you at that night at -17C° I got it warm with that job but got it going and my weekend was saved.

  3. I'm glad we have a former station manager in our midst! Otherwise I wouldn't know what to do to warm myself under -17C° conditions :-) Thanks Hans. And by the way, I remember that SPL/VIE/LNZ/SPL-run but not that it was operated with a DC3. But maybe there was an equipment change around 1965 when I joined KLM.


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