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KLM: 85 years Amsterdam-London

Last Tuesday marked the 85th anniversary of KLM`s first flight from London to Amsterdam. For this inaugural service, KLM chartered a De Havilland DH-16 plus a pilot from the British airline Aircraft Transport and Travel Ltd.

Last Tuesday marked the 85th anniversary of KLM`s first flight from London to Amsterdam. For this inaugural service, KLM chartered a De Havilland DH-16 plus a pilot from the British airline Aircraft Transport and Travel Ltd. (AT&T). The plane could seat four passengers in its closed cabin. The pilot, Jerry Shaw however, sat out in the open. The aircraft flew over The English Channel under terrible weather conditions then via France and Belgium to Holland, crossing the distance of 482 kilometers in just over two hours.



Although the cockpit had a compass, pilots mainly flew by sight, using villages or towns as points of orientation. There was no radio on board, so weather reports were listed on large blackboards set up at regular intervals along the route. As a result, the pilot could fly no higher than 300 meters, which did little for comfort on board. Other visual references, such as railway lines and roads, were also used to enable a specific route to be followed more accurately. On top of that, the schedules were unreliable, to say the least. The early flights therefore mainly attracted adventurous passengers, who were aptly referred to as The Courageous.



Until the mid-1920`s, load factors on the route varied from 33% to 50%. A roundtrip cost about 200 guilders, which few could afford. Many business travelers shied away from air travel, finding it not reliable or comfortable enough.

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