Curaçao Island


Early Airplanes
in KLM's West Indian Services

Fokker FXVIII Snip
Fokker FXVIII Snip
Amsterdam-Curaçao 1934

Douglas DC-5

the forgotten Douglas

Electra dakota skymaster
Lockheed L14 Electra
Douglas DC-3
Douglas DC-4

Lockheed L749 Constellation
the beloved Connie

Fokker FVIIb-3m
In 1924 KLM opened the East India route Amsterdam-Batavia with the first single engine FVII. KLM director Dr. Albert Plesman thought it might be preferable to have a plane that wouldn't just drop out of the sky when one engine failed, and he may have had a point. Admiral Byrd thought so, too, and Fokker agreed with them: To participate in the 1925 Ford contest, he cabled Amsterdam to hang two additional Wright Whirlwind engines under the high wings, creating the FVII-3m or Fokker Tri-Motor — the first tri-engine plane ever built.
This type flew in nearly every country and for nearly every larger airline of the world. It was the most popular aircraft of the time, and opened up the first long-distance routes. In 1925 it easily won the Ford reliability contest (the plane was plastered with Fokker's name all over). Henry and Edsel Ford acquired the winning plane for Commander Richard E. Byrd's north polar expedition; years later Ford produced a very similar aircraft, the Ford Tri-Motor. It was made of metal, though — the famous Tin Goose. However, being much heavier it had no more than just over half the Fokker's range (which caused Byrd much grief).
In Ernest K. Gann's Flying Circus he relates how, when Byrd visited the Ford factories and parked his Fokker in their hangar for one night, the Ford engineers recorded the form of the wing with soft copper tubing, foot by foot. It had been developed by chief designer Platz for the Fokker W.W.I fighter model D-VII. He wanted to make the wing stronger, without reinforcing cables. This resulted in a much thicker wing with more drag and, because of that, more lift; it therefore could be shortened again to get the same lift with less drag. This wing was used on all Fokker commercial aircraft until 1940.

Ford Tri-Motor:
noisy, heavy, slow, bone-rattling gas-guzzler
and ugly, too

Some FVIIb Records
1925  F.VIIa-3m AtlanticWinner, Ford Reliability TourAircraft was acquired by Edsel Ford
1926F.VIIa-3mRichard E. Byrd North Pole flight
with Floyd Bennett
The same 1925 aircraft, now named Josephine Ford
F.VIIb DetroiterSir Hubert Wilkins North Pole
flight attempt
Aircraft damaged in test flights and sold to Charles Kingsford Smith
F.VIIaCharles LindberghFokker refused Lindbergh this aircraft (too risky) and Lindbergh acquired his Ryan.
One wonders about Lindbergh's theories on the advantages of a single engine. True, most two engine planes then couldn't fly on anyway when they lost one; but the F-VIIb flew on when losing two.
Lindbergh defending his choice comes across almost as weird as his Nazi sympathies.
1927C-2 AmericaByrd Atlantic crossing; Bert Acosta,
Bernt Balchen, George Noville
Six weeks after Lindbergh's record crossing, in very bad weather emergency landing in sea near Le Havre after 43 hours
C-2 Bird of ParadiseFirst flight over the Pacific
Hegenberger and Maitland
from Oakland, CA, to Wheeler Field, Hawaii; 3860 kms over water in 25 hours
F.VIIaKLM opens first regular air traffic route
Amsterdam-Batavia, East Indies.
The aircraft was taken apart and shipped back home by ocean freight.
Southern Cross
First Pacific Crossing
Kingsford Smith, co-pilot Ulm
First Pacific crossing: 6,780 nautical miles (over 12,000 kms), in under 88 hours; stops at Honolulu, Suva and Brisbane.
Admiral Byrd South Pole flight
aircraft equipped with floats
Sponsor Edsel Ford resented the use of a competitor's model. To his chagrin, Byrd was forced to use Ford Tri-Motors and sold his plane to Amelia Earhart.
First woman to cross the Atlantic
Captain Stulz, mechanic Gordon
Byrd's aircraft took passenger Amelia Earhart from New Foundland to England in 20 hrs and 40 min.
Southern Cross
First Tasman Sea crossing
Kingsford Smith, co-pilot Ulm
Australia-New Zealand, first leg of world circumnavigation
Question Mark
150 hr non-stop
Spaatz, Eaker, Quesada and Halvorsen
US Army record with in-flight refueling
Southern Cross
world circumnavigation
Kingsford Smith, Evert van Dijk
Tour started in 1928
Australia-New Zealand-Europe-USA

winner of the 1925 Ford competition

When you have had a look at the photos below, you'll understand why Fokker probably didn't think much more than twice about tripling his engine power. Looks more like cabinet-making than airplane-building, and gives that subtle hint as to why airplanes are still affectionately referred to as "crates". Lots of nicely varnished veneer, too. Another former Dutch aircraft manufacturer, Pander, for all I know still has a large furniture shop in the city of The Hague.
One U.S. built Fokker Universal Standard sold for $17,500. While the wings were built in Holland and shipped to the USA, the American Fokkers were different designs by A. Francis Archer and Norbert Noorduyn, built by Fokker's USA plant, the Atlantic Aircraft Corporation. The Fokker Tri Motors finally lost their competitive edge in the USA because there was a crash when one of them carried famous football player Knuthe Rockne, and it was ruled this was caused by a failure of the wooden wing construction; ultimately, this was fixed in the F-XVIII where the wing was glued with Bakelite.

Southern Cross when covering fabric was replaced in 1967
Photographs copyright by Ron Cuskelly


in m
in m
Engine type
Engine power
HP or Lbs
First flight
R.R. Eagle
11 April 1924
Bristol Jupiter VI
12 March 1925
Wright Whirlwind
4 September 1925
Wright Whirlwind

Eight years later, via a series of models in-between, the F-XVIII was developed from the F-VIIb.

Tony Fokker
If you wonder what that name stands for, uh, you're quite right... the dirty mind is not yours.
He himself once wrote his mother: A good name is a good key!

Dutch names

Dutch names

and how they got to be that way.

model drawings available from Modelbouwers
some pictures from adastron

If you got this far
you'll love this one!

Blohm und Voss BV-141
the asymmetrical airplane

Airline Nostalgia
Color photos arranged chronologically, from airliners originating in the 1930s up to the early jetliners - the de Havilland Comet and the Boeing 707. Includes older versions of current models as the Boeing 727 and 747. Many photos show these veteran airliners in recent action. To Conquer the Air
To Conquer the Air:

The Wright Brothers and the Great Race for Flight

James Tobin
Aircraft Encyclopedia

Military and civil aviation from the beginnings to the present day:
- The history of powered flight
- The world's great aircraft
    through the ages
- A-Z directory of almost
    1500 manufacturers
- Technical glossary
- Over 1000 reference

historic aircraft

Search Now:

SEARCH this site or the Web


copyright notice
all material on this site, except where noted
copyright © by , curaçao
reproduction in any form for any purpose is prohibited
without prior consent in writing