Trans-Atlantic mail flight
The Christmas flight of the Snip
The tri-motor Fokker F-XVIII made a crossing from Amsterdam via Paramaribo to Curaçao, carrying mail. The trip of 11,000 kms (4,000 over water) landed 8 days after take-off from Schiphol, on 22 December 1934 at Hato Airport. Captain was J.J. Hongdong, co-pilot/navigator J.J. van Balkom, engineer L.D. Stolk, wireless operator S. v.d.Molen. The route was from Amsterdam via Marseille, Alicante, Casablanca, Cabo Verde, Paramaribo and Caracas.
Pan-American started the first North-Atlantic mail service on May 20, 1939 and the first trans-Atlantic passenger service on June 28, according to Flight 100 [http://www.flight100.org/history/timeline.cfm?period=1930s]. North Atlantic is correct (if a much shorter distance). But the first trans-Atlantic mail service was flown by KLM five years earlier. What KLM really wanted was to set up a West Indian company; eventually this became ALM Antillean Airlines.
Juan Trippe only started organizing the first intercontinental routes for Pan Am(erican World Airways) in 1936, years after KLM had been crossing the Atlantic, and having flown much longer to the Far East shoulder-to-shoulder with British Imperial Airways. Air France and Lufthansa were in Africa and South America long since. However, the Snip flight did not inaugurate a regular KLM trans-Atlantic service.
Route map from a 1993 KLM flight.
click to enlarge
On the left the Great Circle Douglas DC-10 route is penciled in.
The route of the Snip, 1932, is marked in red.
Mark how much this coincides with the (green) route Alonso de Ojeda took in 1499.
KLM Far East route 1932
Bos-Niermeyer Atlas der Geheele Aarde
Groningen, Den Haag, Batavia 1932
More KLM route maps
The original Snip cockpit has been restored in Amsterdam, after which it was sent back to the Curaçaosch Museum where it had been kept originally - outdoors under a tin roof, resulting in a sad deterioration. It cannot have been in a good condition to begin with, as Doctor Chris Engels, founder of the museum, with his family took the aircraft there from where they had found it abandoned in the mondi (bush). You can now see it in a specially built hall there. It's easy to contrast this with the destiny of the Snip and to call the Antilleans sloppy; just realize that the last existing Fokker FVII was burned in 1944, when the American Air Corps Museum "did not have space any more" for the famous Fokker/Atlantic C-2 Bird of Paradise.
In Australia the F-VIIb type Southern Cross, also a record-setter, is a proudly maintained national monument. They have even built a replica that still flies.
monument on Hato Airport
KLM wanted to use Curaçao as a hub between the Far East, the Americas and Europe.
(here's the story)
More on the Fokker FXVIII
and other aeroplanes
model drawings available from Modelbouwers
In August 2016, a replica of the Snip was installed in the renewed arrivals terminal of Hato airport.
I'll add a photo later.
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