Thursday, 13 September 2012

Saved from the dustbin (12)

Up until approx 50 years ago air transport was for the privileged few. Fares were high and the necessity to travel was only felt by very few (business) people. Holiday travel hardly existed. And besides, air travel before WWII was not without risk. 
This atmosphere of exclusivity was certainly strengthened by the many celebrities descending from aircraft stairs, waving and smiling towards  their fans and the ever present (photographic) press.
However, celebrity was preceded by royalty. And KLM had its fair share of royal interest.  Below two examples.
King Albert I of Belgium pays a visit to ?
 The above picture was taken at an unknown location on an unknown date. Judging by the aircraft type it is probably some time after WWI. If the location was the airport of Waalhaven/Rotterdam, then it must have been after July 26, 1920 when the airport was opened.
Queen Wilhelmina of The Netherlands accompanied by KLM Managing Director Albert Plesman
It is likely that this picture is taken at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport shortly after WWII. The lady to the right looks like Princes Juliana, the Queen to be.
I believe that also representatives of the movie industry were willing eye catchers. In those days going to the movies was about the only entertainment for many people. So shooting pictures of eye blinding actresses combined with the adventurous air transport industry always created a certain degree of attention for many. Below two of  these "names".
Movie star Ava Gardner meets her technicians
American actress Ava Gardner (1922-1990) on her way to Barcelona via Schiphol Airport. The picture was probably taken in the 50s. 
Gina Lollobrigida (1927) with KLM stewardess Hoogestegers
Gina Lollobrigida, Italian actress and iconic sex symbol of the 1950s. In 1955 she played the leading part in a movie called The World's Most Beautiful Woman. The title of this movie became her nickname.
Winston and Lady Churchill arriving at Schiphol from Croydon on May 8, 1946. The aircraft is either the PH-TBD (DC3) or the PH-TBR (C47A)
Only young readers may not recognize the man with the cane in this picture. It is legendary British PM Winston Churchill, the man who forged the North Atlantic alliance that would be decisive for the outcome of WWII. His visit to The Netherlands lasted a week.  During his stay he was cheered by large crowds because they recognized his role during the war.
Dutch soccer team Feyenoord travelling to NY
with Douglas DC4 PH-TAT "Twenthe"
With an increasing number of international contacts, also soccer teams started travelling by air. Above the well known team from Rotterdam and below the also in those days famous Spanish Real Madrid.
Spanish soccer team Real Madrid on its way to Odense on Oct. 16, 1960. The aircraft is the Convair 340 PH CGC "Jacob Maris".
Frequent readers of this blog know these pictures appear here thanks to Bert Besseling and Aris Zwart. The site of Herman Dekker is the source of all aircraft data shown in this post.


  1. It is a treat that you obtain these photos, and offer the details to each moment in history. I do remember those names of the women, they were a bit before my time, but I do know that names well, and just how famous they were in the film industry. Most importantly, the photos of the planes and their story are always very interesting as well! Thanks.

  2. Thank you Karen for your comments. One of the reasons to show these pictures is that I am trying to revive old memories. And even if you have no vivid memories of these persons, I think it is nice to meet them. In any case it is better to show them rather than hiding them in dusty shoeboxes.
    Thanks for stopping by!

  3. The BBC has recently been showing a series about the early days of air travel, with recollections from some of the staff and travellers. It seems to have had a glamour which has been lost over the years. A great set of photos.

  4. In the early days I think air travel certainly had glamour. But at the same time that feeling was also promoted by the airlines with staggering beauties acting as stewardesses and five-star-diners served at 10,000 ft. But when I see those ads I also have to think about all these delicate bottles of wine bumping over a runway with speeds of more than 100 miles/hour...

  5. Peter, the flying world was a different world then. We always had some "high flyers" in the family! Anyway the funny thing, my husband is 80 this year and he has never been in a plane. This is a great post with all the memories coming back of early flying adventures.

  6. You can hardly imagine that some people have never flown in their life. Believe in many cases, at least in my circles, it is a matter of being afraid to fly. At one time we had a course here in Holland aiming to beat that fear. In any case, your husband can be congratulated for reaching 80 this year and that is no mean feat! Maybe he will have reached that milestone because he has kept both feet on the ground :)
    Thanks for visiting.

  7. Have not yet reached the 80 years of being alive, however have flown extensively and never regretted same, although some of the seats had something lacking
    Do remember all the persons in the pictures of bygone days either by name or having seen a photo before in other publications. I do remember that the food on board was very good in days gone by. it must have been at the same time when you could have room for your legs and arms. Still have not yet give up on flying and hope to keep this going well into my own eighties. Peter thank you and the persons who saved the pictures to bring back good memories

  8. Thank you Tim, and see you soon!


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