Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Saved from the dustbin (13)

Last week it was World Animal Day. Hence a number of old KLM pictures featuring animals.
One of the first animals KLM ever carried was the famous Nico the Bull. The bull doesn't look like a very mature one but still. If I remember well the story was that it had to go to Paris. But some disease in Belgium (foot and mouth?) made it impossible to use surface transport. So it was flown on the H-NABR, a Fokker F.III. The empty weight of this aircraft was 1,200 kgs. With a maximum take off weight of 1,905 kilos, a little over 700 kilos was left for fuel, the pilot and Nico. A one year old bull weighs approx 400 kilos. I still wonder how they kept the animal quiet. Calculating all the weights there was hardly any payload left for a passenger. And I don't suppose the pilot, who was seated next to the engine, had an opportunity to act as an animal attendant. But they arrived in Paris safely.
Bull Nico
Although KLM operated a lot of cattle charters, many of those from Billund (Denmark) to North African destinations, the picture below most likely shows something else.
The PH-DSK 'Middellandse Zee', a Douglas DC-7C.
This DC-7C was not a freighter but a regular passenger aircraft. But even if this was a freighter, loading of cows is not supposed to take place by marching them onto the apron and "walking" them on board. This picture gives the impression that these cows escaped their attendants. And that can be quite annoying for incoming aircraft. 
The Schiphol apron is being repaired just after WW2
Both the Germans and the Allies bombed Schiphol Airport during WW2. (Less than two months ago yet another 500 lbs bomb was discovered.) Also other destructive activities took place during the war. Immediately thereafter repairs started. Obviously the availability of vans was limited, if any. So horses had to be used for the transportation of materials.
The aircraft in the background is the NL-208, a Douglas C-47A. It was operated by KLM but officially part of the N.G.A.T., the Netherlands Government Air Transport. This set up was necessary because immediately after the war civil air carriers were not yet allowed to use (military) airports. Later this aircraft flew as PH-TCA until the end of 1946.
The Danish King on horseback in Copenhagen in 1939
Today one can hardly imagine that royalty moves around like this King does in Copenhagen. I mean, without being surrounded by armored cars and bald men with hearing aids :-). Would be fun to see body guards trying to keep pace with a horseman.
In earlier posts I did explain that all these pictures have been saved by two colleagues. All photos came from a Copenhagen KLM office. So it is not a coincidence that both the picture above and the shot below have a Danish component.
One of the first horse powered aeroplanes.
The above photo is said to have been taken in the seaside resort of Farod* in 1921. With flying being the risky affair it was in those days, apparently it was regarded safer to offer a circular flight in this way. But in all earnest, this looks more like a fairground attraction.
With no more animal pictures being available, this post is concluded with the remark that all aircraft information is obtained from the site of Herman Dekker.
* I have been unable to trace the exact location of Farod but in view of the name of the hotel it can hardly be anywhere else but in Denmark.

Update: Pia (KLM Copenhagen) discovered that that the hotel was situated in Fanø which is on an island off the coast near Esbjerg. Please see her comments.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. After a bit of research I found out that the hotel on the photo is the "Hotel kongen af Danmark" (Hotel King of Denmark) located in the coastal town of Fanø.

  3. Thank you Pia! I assume the aircraft is no longer there :)

  4. Thanks to Pia te hotel can be viewed here:

  5. I'm trying to imagine you sitting at your computer, scratching your head, and wondering, "What shall I write about today? Oh - I know - airplanes and animals!" The juxtaposition of these two subjects makes me laugh.

  6. @Wendy
    The fact that I can make you laugh about 4000 (?) miles from here, that made my day! But maybe I should explain where the two a's came from. I have this huge collection old KLM pictures. By now I know reasonably well what's in it. Every time I write something about these old pictures I try to find a common denominator. And because World Animal Day was still in the back of my head...
    But maybe for you animals and airplanes are two wholly unconnected things. Having worked for KLM Cargo for almost 40 years, to me animal transport is quite common. Maybe you don't realize this but every time a Boeing 747 combination aircraft crosses the Atlantic, there is a fair chance that there are horses on the main deck right behind the last passenger seats in economy class. Also KLM operates an animal hotel at Schiphol Airport and you don't want to know the number of animals passing through. Not only horses but also cats, dogs, live tropical fish, one day old chicks and even the occasional elephant.
    But as I said, I am happy that I have been able to put a smile on your face.

  7. I'm used to people's pets flying along, but I never considered whether there was a cow on board.

  8. It was a good idea to show these photos which are never an item on the tv news. I am still learning here more about the world around us.

  9. @Prenter
    Glad to have been of service :) and thanks for dropping in!

  10. I really couldn't stop laughing at the horse powered plane. I imagined the horse racing fwd and then, like Icarus, taking off in to the air with that plane dragging behind it. Wat actually was the idea of that horse?
    And how many HP did the plane itself have? Or is that a silly question....still laughing.

  11. Hi Peter

    Do you know if there were any flights from Schipol during the war and in particular 1940

    Great work for making your find available. Ben

  12. @Ben

    Schiphol was bombed in May 1940 by the Germans, don't know the exact date but Germans invaded the Netherlands on May 10.
    During the occupation the Luftwaffe used Schiphol for their Blitzkrieg. However, US and British bombers attacked the airport frequently.
    During autumn 1944 buildings, ramp and runways have been demolished by the Germans.
    To best of my knowledge there were no civilian operations during the war.
    In early May US B-17's dropped food for the starving population.
    The war ended (officially) on May 5, 1945. Despite the bomb craters the first aircraft managed to land on May 20. On July 3 the first scheduled flight landed, it was an ABA DC3 presumably from Stockholm.
    Let me know if you need further details (but there are not many).


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