The first flight to Java

Civilian Aviation was rapidly expanding in the early 1920’s. KLM, founded in 1919 and operating since 1920, was contemplating a service to the Netherlands East Indies. But could it be done? The Dutch government cold shouldered the idea and nobody wanted to bankroll such an adventure.

A private initiative managed to collect sufficient money for a flight to the other side of the globe and KLM made a single engine Fokker F VII available. A crew was found and they left Amsterdam – Schiphol on October 1, 1924.


Two days later the liquid cooled Rolls Royce Eagle IX engine overheated over Saladinovo (then known as Philippopol) in Bulgaria. The forced landing demolished the starboard undercarriage and the engine was a total loss…

There were no funds available for a new engine and things looked pretty bleak. Then a popular magazine in the Netherlands (“Het Leven”) ran a subscription and donated the balance of the sum required to buy a new engine from Rolls Royce. It was sent by rail to Bulgaria and took some time to reach the stranded aircrew.

Mechanic Van Broeke singlehandedly saved the whole flight. He managed to repair the undercarriage and replaced the engine, all under appallingly primitive conditions.

The crew resumed the flight early in November and hopped from one airfield to another across the Indian sub-continent , down the islands and finally arrived in Batavia (Jakarta) on November 24, 1924…

I attach a short video clip showing some aspects of the flight

The aftermath:
Crew and plane returned to the Netherlands by ship.
The flight had proved the viability of an air service between Amsterdam and the Netherlands East Indies
KLM carried out several experimental flights in the late 1920’s and started a scheduled service between Amsterdam and Batavia with Fokker tri-motors in Sept. 1929.

And Tony Fokker abandoned liquid cooled engines altogether and stuck to air-cooled radials for all his subsequent airliners…



About Kingsleyr

Thank you for visiting my blog! The posts you find here are a direct result of my research into aviation and military history. I use the information I gather as a foundation and background for my books. You may call the genre historical fiction, a story woven into a background of solid and verifiable historical facts. However, the period and region I have chosen to write about (late 1930's - 1950's in South-East Asia) are jam-packed with interesting information and anecdotes. If I'd used them all I would swamp the stories. So this blog is the next best thing. It is an "overflow area" in which I can publish whatever I think will interest you. And from the reactions I get, I deduce I am on the right track. A lot will be about aviation in the former Dutch East Indies. This, because my series of books ("The Java Gold") follows a young Dutch pilot in his struggle to survive the Pacific War and its aftermath. But there's more in the world and you'll find descriptions of cities, naval operations and what not published on this blog. Something about myself; I am a Dutch-Canadian author, living in, and working out of the magical city of Amsterdam. My lifelong interest in history and aviation, especially WW2, has led me to write articles and books on these subjects. I hope you'll enjoy them!
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