Amsterdam Municipal Airport "Schiphol", the Old Days...

I borrowed this print for a scan, a unique insight into the very early days of commercial aviation!

In the foreground (left to right) are 3 similar aircraft: Junkers G.24 D 879 (construction number 902) and Junkers G.24 D 1069 (c/n 845), both of Deutsche Luft Hansa. The third one is a Junkers G.23 S-AAAE (c/n 836) of AB Aerotransport.
The 'old' Lufthansa, founded in 1926, was liquidated by the victorious powers in WW2.
Parked behind them is Fokker VII H-NACJ (c/n 4839) and Fokker VIIb-3m (c/n 5057) P-PAAA (the registration seems underlined.) of Polish Ministry of Communications (it was written off on 31Jul28).
Behind these are some aircraft without a readable "tailnumber", but Gerben Tornij was able to identify the one in the foreground: a Fokker C.VIII. This product of Fokker did not live up to the expectations of the LVA (Luchtvaartafdeeling, later to become Royal Dutch Airforce) and as a result only one airframe was built and therefor easy to identify: registrationnumber 651. In the foreground to the right is Fokker VIIa-3m H-NADP (c/n 4992, converted to F.VIIb-3m in 1928).

The aircraft in the foreground, with registration F-AIAN, is a Farman F.121 (F-3X) Jabiru.
Aircraft parked behind are Fokker F.VIIa H-NACT (I think, would make it c/n 5054) and Fokker VIII H-NAED (c/n 5041)
The aircraft on the far right would be a Rohrbach Ro.VIII Roland D-1297 (c/n.37), of the Deutsche Luft Hansa.

Loet Kuipers, Air Britain Netherlands Branch
Terry Murphy, Air-Britain member
Gerben Tornij
Herman Dekker's Dutch register notes: (2018: link no longer valid)

hangar interior
In the days several aircraft
would fit in a hangar and have room to spare!
Control Tower, Amsterdam Municipal Airport
Control Tower,
Amsterdam Municipal Airport
Amsetrdam Airport's visitors terrace
The old days, when the crowds were thin
and security relaxed:
oh days of innocence !
PH-ALU in preparation
KLM's DC-3-194B PH-ALU "Uil" , in preparation.
'LU was destroyed during a German attack on Schiphol, 10May1940

Only months before the photos above came to my attention, I had been visiting Boeing's Museum of Flight in Seattle, WA. There was a contemporay aircraft on display: the Boeing 80A-1 of 1929. For comparison I therefor show these 2 photos:
Until the mid-1920s, American commercial airplanes were built for mail, not people... Boeing's model 80, along with the Ford and Fokker tri-motors, were a new breed of of passenger aircraft. The 80 provided a heated cabin, and leather seats (but the cabin wasn’t pressurized, engine noise made conversation difficult, and despite heaters, the cabin was sometimes very cold).
The model 80 first flew on 27Jul1928, and was flying Boeing Air Transport's (BAT) route two weeks later. The 12-passenger Model 80 and the more powerful 18-passenger 80-A (redesignated 80A-1 when the tail surfaces were modified in 1930) stayed in service until 1934, when replaced by the all-metal Boeing 247.
Unlike the other passenger planes of the era, the Model 80 was a biplane. This design feature enabled it to have a slow landing speed at the high-altitude airports along Boeing Air Transport's San Francisco-to-Chicago route.
this particular aircraft was retired from service with B.A.T. in 1934.
It became a cargo aircraft in 1941 with a construction firm in Alaska. To carry large equipment, including a massive 11.000 pound (4.950 kgs) boiler, a cargodoor was cut into the plane's side.
After WW2 NC224M (I don't know if it ever carried that serial outside the museum) was parked at an airfield and disgarded. Fortunately, it was recovered from a dump in 1960 and eventually brought to Seattle for restoration. It is the only surviving example of the Boeing Model 80 series.

Some eye-catching details: look how small the prop is and how simple the engine is fitted between the wings; also the protection placed above the wheels to protect the wings from stones damaging the wing is very nice.

"Thought you might like this one... It was taken in October 1950 at Schiphol by the father of a friend of mine, Gerhard Stoopman. He worked for Shell in Curacao and was visiting home in the Netherlands when he photographed this Lockheed Constellation. Unfortunately the original is very small - only about 3" by 2". "
Courtesy Robert J. Ribando.

On 09Mar1916 the Dutch Minister of War gave his permission to buy some land in the Haarlemmermeer, to build a 2nd (military) airport besides Soesterberg AB. Despite extensive drainage, the wheels of the Farmans, Rumplers and Spijkers kept sinking in the mud after a bit of rain.
Albert Plesman was convinced there was a future for commercial aviation and he founded KLM in 1919. Initially he wanted to fly from an area in Wassenaar but the English pilots thought the area unsuitable. On 17May1920 the first KLM flight left London for Amsterdam; its load was 2 journalists, newspapers and a letter for the mayor of Amsterdam. And this was the day that mud patch became Amsterdam Municipal Airport.
But those early passengers were carried by strong men from and to the planes when it had rained, as it was still a muddy airstrip. There was no terminal, nothing much of anything.
The name Schiphol has been explained in various ways. There used to be an inland sea here and strong winds caused many ships to sink: Ship's Hell. Another explanation is, in old terminology, the name Schiphol would relate to a a low lying patch of land, swampy, with trees. In 1921 KLM tried to change the name but people kept using Schiphol so it was left at that.
Consider this: in 2006 the airport authorities has a budget for 200 million euro for security, a quarter of the airport's total budget.

Jan Dellaert became Station Manager and Chief Flight Division on 15Jun1920 and he was to rule Schiphol for 40 years. Jan Dellaert became for Amsterdam IAP what Albert Plesman meant for KLM-Royal Dutch Airlines.
In those early days operations weren't exactly "24/7"... During the winter all flying ceased and the airport went into hybernation!
On 03Feb26 Amsterdam and the Dutch government reached an agreement and investments were made to change this "mudhole" into a serious airport: drainage was put in place, a restaurant and lounges were built. It took until 1932 to install radio telecommunication facilities.
Click here During the 1930s passenger transport took off; a big boost was KLM's contribution to the London-Melbourne race in 1934: Douglas DC-2 PH-AJU "Uiver" won the handicap race (it arrived second, but first place was a racer built for airraces).
During these 1930s yearly passengernumbers accumulated to 200.000 - 300.000; much traffic went to the Dutch Indies.
In 1938 the location came underdiscussion: the government suggested to move the airport to Leiderdorp; even KLM was in favour. But a large crowd gathered on 02Jul38 in protest and the idea was abandoned. However, the issue to relocate this international airport comes up every now and again: during the 1990s a study was made to relocate to a location off the coast, on reclaimed land. It hasn't happened... yet!

Shortly before the war the construction of the highway Den Haag - Amsterdam was completed, hangars had been raised, a concrete runway had been established and runwaylighting for nightoperations (by Philips of course) had been put in place.
Then World War 2 broke out: Holland was invaded in the night of May 9th and 10th, 1940 by the Germans. Much damage was made to the national airport but the Germans quickly repaired this and even expanded! This Fliegerhorst played an important role in Luiftwaffe's battle against Britain. In return the Allied forces bombed Amsterdam Airport: on 13Dec43 208 Marauder bombers of the 9th Air Force participated in an attack and destruction was to such a degree that the Germans gave up their use only to return in Sep44 to demolish all that remained and thus prevent use by the approaching Allied forces.
After the war they could, literally, start from scrap again..

(c) F. v.d. Berg   (c) F.v.d.Berg
Frans van den Berg (Nijmegen,NL) sent me these bagage labels and explained: " I was 8 years old in 1947 and flew with my parents in a DC-3 from Beek (Limburg) to Amsterdam, returning to Haarlem after our holidays.
I have kept this bagage label ever since. My son and I found your website when we looked for the identity of this DC-3 I had flown in and found your reference to PH-TBA with your description of N94530: that same DC-3 you had come across in Savannah, GA in 2005!
Frans van den Berg, photos ©


A few important years for "Schiphol":

1916- purchase of a piece of land for military aviation purposes
1920- First KLM flight from London arrives; Schiphol becomes a civilian airport
1920- Jan Dellaert starts with KLM
1926- The military turn the airfield over to the City of Amsterdam
1928- Many improvements completed in time for Olympic Games at Amsterdam
1929- KLM starts with first intercontinental schedule on the Dutch Indies
1940- Schiphol falls into the hands of the Germans and becomes a Fliegerhorst
1944- The German occupational troops inflict great destruction on the airport
1949- opening semi-permanent terminal building
1950- Jan Dellaert accepts position as Director of Schiphol Airport
1952- commercial aviation sees introduction of economy class
1955- start of the jet-agemaps, 1920 and 1956 in comparison
1955- Schiphol registers more than a million visitors
1957- start op tax-free shops at the airport
1958- Amsterdam Municipal Airport becomes NV Luchthaven Schiphol
1959- Schiphol registers more than a million travellers
1960- Jan Dellaert retires (and dies)
1963- major expansion, including new runways, is started
1967- Schiphol-Centre is opened by Queen Juliana
1970- first Boeing 747 (Pan Am) lands at SPL, july 2nd
1978- railway connection to the airport is established
1991- new atc-tower becomes operational
2003- runway 18R/36L ("Polderbaan") becomes operational
2006- Schiphol celebrates 60th anniversary
Source: Schipholland, jubilee-edition 2006

PH-LKS "Proton"
Lockheed L.1049E Super Constellation PH-LKS awaits
a new assignment at Amsterdam Int'l Airport
Convair, PH-CGF
Convair 340, PH-CGF
and some unique groundtransport!
Flypast by Lockheed Constellation
A flypast by a Lockheed Constellation over Amsterdam Airport
Convair PH-TEE
Passengers exiting Convair 240 PH-TEE "Jan Steen"; passed on to Swissair in 1953.

"What a joy to find your webpage.  I am just sorry I have no pictures to add.

My father (Jack Wilson) started flying for KLM in 1945 from Croydon, England and then when Heathrow opened in 1946 he was transferred to Schipol. He flew from there for 25 years. 
We all moved over to Amstelveen. We used to ride our bikes on the road next to the airport (I think it would be a problem nowadays). I have happy memories of standing on the balcony waiting for his flight to come home.
In the early days he flew the DC-3 and he was the first to fly the Africa route. He ended his time at KLM flying the stretched DC-8 over the Pole to the Far East.
Thanks for the flashback, it was fun."
Sue Davies

And another reaction:
"I was at Croydon, with KLM Air Traffic, back in 1946/47 - being my first job on leaving school.
At that time KLM had about 8 flights daily on the Croydon/Amsterdam run - plus one from Eindhoven.
Some of the names I recall on air traffic included Mr Johnson i/c of Air Traffic. Station Manager Mr Geary - and baggage porter Joe Chamberlain, a well known and much liked character who had worked most of his life at the airport from its early days.
It was a grand sight to see up to 3 gleaming KLM Dakotas on the tarmac with their flags flying - alongside SABENA and AIR FRANCE, who were still operating Junkers 52's.
Several of the KLM pilots were former US Airforce.
Most who worked at Croydon airport in those days seemed to be part of a big happy family, in those golden days of aviation that we shall never see again, alas."
Brian Phillips


Dirk Septer kindly donated me this titillating brochure..
Schiphol 1930s

Gemeente Luchthaven van Amsterdam - Schiphol 1936

Gemeente Luchthaven van Amsterdam - Schiphol 1936

Gemeente Luchthaven van Amsterdam - Schiphol 1936

Douglas DC-2 of KLM


Gemeente Luchthaven van Amsterdam - Schiphol 1936 Gemeente Luchthaven van Amsterdam - Schiphol 1936



Gemeente Luchthaven van Amsterdam - Schiphol 1936


Gemeente Luchthaven van Amsterdam - Schiphol 1936


Gemeente Luchthaven van Amsterdam - Schiphol 1936


Gemeente Luchthaven van Amsterdam - Schiphol 1936

'Schiphol' would become Schiphol-Oost (Schiphol-East). Schiphol 2009
Google Maps


Gemeente Luchthaven van Amsterdam - Schiphol 1936
The flighttimes from Amsterdam to the Dutch East Indies, Batavia (Jakarta)


Gemeente Luchthaven van Amsterdam - Schiphol 1936


Gemeente Luchthaven van Amsterdam - Schiphol 1936


Gemeente Luchthaven van Amsterdam - Schiphol 1936
Loading and unloading of a Douglas DC-2.


Gemeente Luchthaven van Amsterdam - Schiphol 1936 Gemeente Luchthaven van Amsterdam - Schiphol 1936


Gemeente Luchthaven van Amsterdam - Schiphol 1936
Some critical dates, to that point in 1936.


Gemeente Luchthaven van Amsterdam - Schiphol 1936
Who would have thought, in those days, that Air France would take over our KLM Royal Dutch some day...


Flower industry and Schiphol
The flower industry with, the large auction center in Aalsmeer, continues the cooperation to this day. Except these days freighters such as 747s & MD11s bring in their perishable cargo.




In some office clean up a few photos reappeared and are reproduced here..

The name on the aircraft is 'Papegaai'(= parrot).
In the background the terminal of Schiphol, which was later reproduced at the Aviodrome in Lelystad.


War damage
Probably clean up of war damage at Amsterdam's Schiphol


Hangar at Schiphol
About PH-ACR: This was a Fokker F.VII and formerly registerd H-NACR.
I found this photo reappearing as a postcard later on (see further down).

In 1929 the Dutch civil air registration changed from the H-N... system to PH- system by way of internationally agreed country prefix. H had been assigned and unofficially PH- was an abbreviation for Plesman Hollad (Albert Plesman being the a Dutch pioneer in aviation and co-founder of KLM; see Wikipedia).
H-NACR became PH-ACR. Usually the change of tailnumber was implemented during the next maintenance involving painting of the aircraft. PH-ACR was sold to Australia in 1931.

Herman Dekker wrote me (mar.2015) that the above is complete nonsense.
I have translated his explanation:
"In 1929 the nationality prefixes for aviation were once again (re)established at a conference.
It was determined that the Netherlands (often referred to as 'Holland') had to change from H- to PH-. With only 3 digits for use in the registry. The motivation for this was not recorded, hence the many theories on this subject.
But various steps led to this, allow me to enlighten.
In 1927 an International Telegraph Agreement was reached, in Washington (D).
Article 14 in this Agreement saw various callsigns designated for 'aviation stations': a combination of 5 letters preceeded by PA, PB, PC, PD, PE, PF, PG, PH en PI.
Note: this is not for a particular aircraft but for a radiostation, or radio installation, in an airborne craft.
And these were already in use since 1913, because aviation stations resorted under different ministries (War, Navy & Infrastructure ('Waterstaat', literally: Water Management).
Leading up to the 1929 Agreement it was expected to be assigned as Marine = PA, War = and for civilian aircraft' = PH.
The other series remained without use.
There was a conflict about initially proposed 'PE'. The Director Aviation, Mr Th. De Veer, noted there was a chance 'on the telegraph' GE (of British aircraft) could be easily misunderstood for 'PE'. And with PH- the 'H' had a close reference to 'Holland'. And so it came to be that PH- was agreed upon.
With the added advantage of an obvious difference to British aircraft (GE), Australian aircraft (GA) and Australian (GC).
So this is where 'H for Holland' originated.
The widely circulated explanation for P, in PH, as a prefix for'Pays Bas' is not only logical but also correct.
The lists clearly shows an effort that the first letter should be the starting letter of the country in question.
Note: P for Pays Bas was also mentioned in the 1912 proposal.
About the 'P' many theories circulate, like the 'P for Plesman' (but also P for Pander), but it is highly unlikely that allocation was made in such an informal way, so they lack any credibility; they should be considered fairy tales!"



Passengers disembarking
Passengers disembarking a KLM airliner.
Again, I found this photo reappearing as a postcard later on (see further down).

A flight prepared
I was struggling with type of aircraft here.. Then in august 2016 Ben Hilgers wrote me: "...must be a Fokker F.VIIb-3m. I'm
assembling a 1/72 model and recognise the details. The propeller use differed much, so it is difficult to identify the exact aircraft."


Aerial view of the old Schiphol
Aerial view of the old Schiphol, what was later to become Schiphol-Oost (-East) where the maintenance facilities were located.
This one also reappeared as a postcard later on (see further down).


Schiphol terminal
Schiphol - old terminal - date unknown

Douglas DC-2
Douglas DC-2 PH-AKJ 'Jan van Gent', unloading the mail - date unknown.'s.html (dutch)

Amsterdam's Int'l Airport Schiphol
Amsterdam's Int'l Airport Schiphol during the 1940's

Schiphol 1940's
DC-2 PH-AKS 'Sperwer'; this photo, and the next four, all stem from the 1940's era.

Schiphol 1940's

Schiphol 1940's


Schiphol 1940's

In an old book I found a series of postcards, all depicting scenes of Schiphol in the 'old days' but lacking information.
Schiphol, in 'ye olde days'
The above photo has 'KLM' in the flowerbed; perhaps a restaurant? Or a headoffice?
The photo immediately above here shows the ramp (prsently 'Schiphol-East') with the canal ('ringvaart')

Schiphol, in 'ye olde days'

Schiphol, in 'ye olde days'

Schiphol, in 'ye olde days'..


Some interesting footage of a day at Schiphol 22Oct1949 can be found on YouTube:


Vintage KLM advertisement
Vintage KLM advertisement - 'By DC-4 to Miami and 3x/weekly to Curacao and Aruba'
Shared on Facebook by Kjell Idsal‎ ('The Douglas C-54/DC-4 Skymaster')
The advertisement may well have come from this website:


Andre de Koter shared these photos from his family collection, people with a KLM DC-2 at Schiphol.
DC-2 PH-AKU at Schiphol, 1936
The photo has '1936' on top.

Andre wrote: "I have a picture from 1936, (at least that's what is written at the top of the picture), of some family in front of DC 2 'Jan van Gent'.
I have no idea why the family were there, or what the occasion was. Maybe you have an idea why Schiphol was taking pictures at the time, or direct me to any other website. Any help would be greatly appreciated!"

From the webmaster: it was quite common to have photos taken at Amsterdam's Schiphol Int'l Airport. I have a photo from my early schooldays on a school outing similar to the one above. Groups no doubt were guided round, access to the ramp was much (MUCH!) more relaxed than modern days.

Andre also wrote: "I've been doing my family tree and came across this picture. I believe my grandparents and father are in this picture, but they're not standing next to each other. They may have other family standing between them, but I don't recognize anyone else.
No one that I know of in the family at the time travelled by air, so I found it strange they should have their picture taken with the airplane."

Comment of RL: I think these people bought a ticket for a guided tour on the ramp. It obviously isn't a school outing and noting all the different ages it isn't a business outing either. A group asked to gather at the airplane probably explains why the family isn't firmly groued together.
The number below left may be for ordering extra exposures; I think a photographer made a business out of the guided tours such as on other tourist locations.

People and DC-2 PH-AKU at Schiphol, 1936

DC-2 PH-AKJ 1936
Douglas DC-2 PH-AKJ of the KLM, named 'Jan van Gent'.

History of DC-2 PH-AKJ - by
History of DC-2 PH-AKJ - by ATDB
PH-AKJ was assembled by Fokker for KLM and during WW2 operated by Lufthansa (D-AJAW) and Luftwaffe (PC+EC)

Can add this remark "In serviceapril 1935, taken over by the germans in may 1940.At least in Lufthansa service 1944"
from the website







Herman Dekker has created an online 'Luchtvaartarchief' (in Dutch), an excellent source for Dutch aviation history.

To email me, click on the image and write the correct adress as given below
(replace -AT- by the @ symbol).

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Created: 09-5-03 Updated: 12-10-07
Last updated 31.08.2018