Thursday, May 10, 2012

Saved from the dustbin (8)

Today's aircraft are loaded with computer systems doing all kinds of tasks previously done by the crew. If you see a picture like the one below, you realize the evolution that has taken place in the cockpit. Apart from four cabin staff, there are six (!) cockpit crew members. It is very well possible that the character of this flight, it was the first KLM flight from Amsterdam to Tokyo via the polar route, was the reason to have a couple of extra crew members on board. But on this DC7C-flight you see the captain, the co-pilot, two navigators and two flight engineers. If you compare this number with the current flight deck crew of two, you'll appreciate the changes that have taken place there.
First flight from Schiphol to Tokyo via the north pole on Nov. 1, 1958
with captain A.D. Snitslaar left (names of other crew known as well).
To celebrate a first flight KLM, and other airlines as well, issued first flight envelopes. Although I have a lot of those myself, the one below does not belong to my collection. It was carried on the return flight from Tokyo to Amsterdam on Nov. 4, 1958.
KLM first flight envelope.
Shortly after WW2 KLM started a training for radio telegraph operators. Their first call sign was PI1KLM. And still today there are some devoted KLM amateur radio enthousiasts who go on the air every Sunday on frequency 3785 khz. Their call sign is PI9KLM and they have their own website.
A radio operator* in his Douglas DC6 "office" probably
close to the end of the fourties .
*Update May 19, 2016: A year and a half ago I received an email from Mr. Joop Witbaard, 85 years old at the time and a former KLM radio operator. He had an idea about who the radio operator in the above picture might be. But since he wasn't certain he promised to let me know when he did. Yesterday he informed me he could tell with 90% certainty that this is Mr. C. Hoefnagel who started with KLM back in 1939. He died near Rhein Main airport in Germany on March 22, 1952 when his DC6 PH-TPJ was in the final approach and the aircraft flew into a forest. The cause of this crash was never found.
Joop also has a theory that this picture was taken in a Lockheed Constellation L-049. His idea is based on the picture below. It shows the lay out of the identical L-749. He feels the photo is taken from where the red square is drawn. From that angle you almost have to see the back of the flight engineer seat as it is also visible in the picture.


Cockpit lay out of the Lockheed Constellation L-749
I am grateful to Joop for uncovering the identity of the unknown radio operator!

Update Sept. 17, 2016: There is now definite confirmation that the radio operator shown above is Mr. Cornelis Hoefnagel. Today I received a comment from his son Kees. He said: "It was a nice surprise for me to find the photographs of the "unidentified" radio operator in "Saved from the dustbin (8)" and the recent update with information by Mr. Joop Witbaard, who is very right! I can tell you, now with 100% certainty, that the radio operator is my father, Cornelis Hoefnagel and that the photo was indeed taken in the cockpit of a Lockheed Constellation. The photograph was made for a KLM promotional campaign in the U.S.A. and has appeared in Time Magazine in the late forties and was also printed in the KLM Board Magazine Holland Herald of November 2013. 
The text of this advertishment read "His ear never leaves the ground". 

Subsequently Kees send me both publications. In his email he said: "As promised, I send you the relevant page from Time of 5 April 1948, as well as the reuse of the photograph in the Holland Herald of April 2014.
I remember that I was on my way from Amsterdam to Bucharest and leisurely scrolling through the KLM Board Magazine, when all at once I was confronted with this photograph of my father, 66 years after it was made.
As I was only 3 years old, when my father died in the crash of the DC-6 "Koningin Juliana" near Frankfurt, I am always looking at old aviation photographs and reports hoping to find something about him. This is how I came onto you blog and I very much appreciate what you did with everything you saved from the dustbin!
With thanks and best regards,
Kees Hoefnagel"

Radio operator Cornelis Hoefnagel in Time Magazine Apr. 5, 1948
... and Cornelis again in Holland Herald 4-2014
I like to make a remark about the published photo of Mr. Hoefnagel in the Holland Herald. When we had the terrible KLM/PAA crash in Tenerife on March 27, 1977 one of the many victims was KLM captain Mr. J. Veldhuyzen van Zanten. At the time he was involved in a KLM advertising campaign among others shown in the Holland Herald issue on board of the aircraft crashed in Tenerife... After this terrible incident it became policy not to show crew members in advertising campaigns any more. Apparently this policy was long forgotten when the picture of Mr. Hoefnagel was published in 2014. And I doubt whether the editor realized how he met his fate...


Captain Jacob Veldhuyzen van Zanten in the 1977 Holland Herald
[end of update]
________________
Airline people tend to regard everything that is taking place in the cockpit as the center of the world. However, also cockpit staff will have to admit that it is rather difficult to operate an airline without the benefit of passengers (and shippers for that matter) willing to foot the bill. So passengers have to be pampered. And that can be done in various ways.
Beauty sleep in a Douglas DC6. KLM started operating the DC6
in 1948. The word 'marketing' did not even exist then...
And do you still remember airline ads for first class service? Haute cuisine and superb wines at high altitudes. I have always wondered what the effect is on those superb wines when an aircraft races over a runway with a speed of say 200 miles/hour...
KLM Royal Class service in a Douglas DC8.
Speaking of ads, one of the earliest ads in colour was a picture postcard of this Super Constellation, to my mind still one of the most beautiful aircraft ever built. This one was registered in KLM's name on Dec. 22, 1955.
KLM Super Constellation PH-LKE "Pegasus".
Not surprising the Constellation was affectionately nicknamed "Connie".


A line up of unpainted Super Constellations, probably near the factory at Burbank, CA.
All of the above pictures have been saved from destruction by my colleagues Aris Zwart en Bert Besseling. Otherwise they - the pictures - would have met their final destiny at a Copenhagen incinerator. The site of Herman Dekker is the source for all details related to aircraft registrations.

4 comments:

Hans from Vienna said...

Nice pictures! Thanks to Aris, Bert and you.

On those early flights over the northpole two navigators were no luxury . Magnetic compass navigation could not be used as variation near the pole changes rapidly and would be unreliable. Satelites and GPS was not avilable then. Instead "grid-navigation", developed during WW-II by R.A.F and classified until after the war, had to be used.
New to KLM, grid navigation made use of directional-gyro compass and polar-stereographic-projection maps on which the "grid-north" is a parallel to the Greenwich Meridian. Allowing for wind and other deviations the required heading could thus easier and more reliable be reckoned and plotted. Regular bearings on the sun (or the stars) were necessary to check and correct.
How do I know? For my flight despatch licence with the RLD in 1966, it happened that I had to prepare a DC-7 flt to TYO.

As to the Superconny, we called it the best three-engine a/c. Usually one engine was always u/s.

Peter said...

Thanks Hans for telling us. My operational experience is limited to cargo only. So most of what you are saying is new to me. Having joined KLM in 1965 I completely forgot that we still operated DC-7C aircraft at the time. It seems so short ago...
And as to your last remark, I am aware that flight dispatchers are a very humorous lot :-)

c hoefnagel said...

Dear Peter,
It was a nice surprise for me to find the photographs of the "unidentified" radio operator in "Saved from the dustbin (8)" and the recent update with information by Mr. Joop Witbaard, who is very right! I can tell you, now with 100% certainty, that the radio operator is my father, Cornelis Hoefnagel and that the photo was indeed taken in the cockpit of a Lockheed Constellation. The photograph was made for a KLM promotional campaign in the U.S.A. and has appeared in Time Magazine in the late forties and was also printed in the KLM Board Magazine Holland Herald of November 2013.
The text of this advertishment read "His ear never leaves the ground". The original photo's and the issue of Time Magazine or in my possession. If you like, I shall be happy to mail you a copy. Thanks for showing it on your blog and best regards, Kees (Cornelis jr.)

Peter said...

Dear Kees,
Thank you so much for your message and for the now 100% confirmation that the "unknown" radio operator is indeed your father Cornelis Hoefnagel in a Lockheed Constellation. I also appreciate the particulars with regard to this picture. Indeed I like to receive a copy of Time Magazine. If suitable I'll show it in this blog. My email is: patmiebies at gmail dot com. Thanks for taking the trouble!
Best regards, Peter

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