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
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…