4 Remarkable Photos from the KLM Archives – II

Because I like to keep my promises, I’ve selected four photos from the KLM archives that caught my eye as I burrowed, scampered and flicked through the images. If you look closely, you’ll see things that are surprising or don’t seem right or simply send your imagination off on a wild goose chase. I hope you enjoy the mixed bag of remarkable photos I’ve picked for you.

Opleiden cabinepersoneel 9575

Absurd service

This was, no doubt, supposed to be a photo illustrating just how courteous and complete service was aboard a KLM aircraft. The photographer certainly succeeded in capturing the hospitable and service-driven atmosphere on board, with everyone doing their utmost. The chef, who was then still a feature on board, is serving a balanced meal, while the stewardess seems to be explaining what’s on the menu. But she seems to have manoeuvred herself into a difficult position, leaning over the empty window seat to address the lady sitting in the aisle seat. What series of events could have led up to this? Passenger: “Do you have serviette for me?” Stewardess: “Of course, madam.” She then climbs over the passenger, squeezes into the window seat, where she can hardly stand up straight, before handing over the serviette. We will go to absurd lengths to serve you.

Opmerkelijke foto new look LOGO

Close harmony group

Here’s a group posing on an aircraft stairway in the hangar. Six ladies and a gent, somewhere around 1966. They look like the kind of close harmony group that was popular at the time: the Anita Kerr Singers, the Swingle Singers or Ray Conniff’s outfit. You can almost hear them singing “Up, up and away” (My beautiful balloon). But nothing could be further from the truth. These people are, in fact, modelling a new uniform.

This range, called the New Look, was introduced in 1966 and didn’t just include uniforms, it also encompassed the restyling of all sorts of other materials on board, including tableware. The slipover aprons that five of the ladies are wearing (Wolkenridder Magazine referred to them as “colourful kazaks”) as well as the purser’s jacket were worn when serving dinner. And why wouldn’t cabin crew also get dressed for dinner? The mechanic in the background clearly had other things on his mind.

Opmerkelijke foto Sinterklaas LOGO

Royal Catholic Airlines?

Non-Dutch readers may be a little confused by this photo. There’s a pretty lady and a pilot (nothing unusual there), but why is that bishop standing between them? Judging by their smiles, the lady and the pilot are delighted to have their picture taken with the bishop. In the background, you can see the only Koolhoven FK-40 that KLM ever owned. (You can read more about the “Piet Haes” in my blog on aircraft  names). You can also see the terminal at Waalhaven Airport in Rotterdam. I think the photo was probably dates from early December 1929. The “Piet Haes” joined the fleet in October 1929 and looks brand-new in this picture.

The bishop in the middle is St Nicholas, of course, who traditionally celebrates his birthday on 5 December by bringing gifts to Dutch children. He has clearly been busy, because he looks rather pale, perhaps even sickly. Could the bishop be flying back to Spain, where he spends the rest of the year, as all Dutch kids know? The problem is that KLM didn’t fly to Spain in those days. It’s more likely that he is a lookalike, who headed back to the terminal after this photo was taken to change back into his ordinary suit and return to his ordinary life, like all those other lookalike St Nicholases, Santa Clauses and Father Christmases.

Eva Gardner 1951

In the picture with Ava

She was world famous, a shining star of the silver screen in Hollywood: Ava Gardner. She visited the Netherlands in 1951, possibly accompanied by her then-husband Frank Sinatra, to promote a production in which she played the lead: “Pandora and the Flying Dutchman”. I suspect that only her biggest fans will remember this movie, because it wasn’t a huge success. Nevertheless, these two gents certainly weren’t going to miss a star-studded photo opportunity. And they clearly had a blast! The gent on the right is standing at a friendly distance, but the gent of the left is leaning in comfortably. He has laid his head on Ava’s shoulder. She was probably wearing heels, but she is almost a head taller than her paramour, who probably saw this as a once-in-a-lifetime chance. Ever the professional, Ava took it all on the chin with a sparkling grin, and probably thought: “Whatever sells tickets!”

Posted by:   Frido Ogier  | 
Join the conversation Show comments


Another great post! Thanks for sharing these photos

Will you ever post videos held in the Archives, As I see in the “We are KLM for you” video you do hold some videos.

Its also interesting to see the choices aircraft used. Do you think in 90 years time someone at KLM Could be doing a similar post about Boeing 747 combis?

Frido Ogier

Hi Stephen, I’m sure there are, but I have to find the occasion to use them. About aircraft like the 747 combi: 90 years is a very longe time and I can’t predict what kind of technological kind of inventions will be. People will always be curious about the past and once a blog will be written about the 747 combi. :-)

Best regards!



What a splendid post! Even for a KLM-staff member working close to the historical archives this is sheer joy! But dare I say the last paragraph has been written for another ‘Ava Gardner-image’ initially? Since the left pilot does not actually lean on Ava’s shoulder. And the suggestion that she might be wearing high heels? If you scroll down, you can see it with your own eyes. And I know ‘my’ editor. He doesn’t make the tiniest mistakes when it comes to writing…..

Frido Ogier

Hi Inge, I’m completely sure that you know ‘your’ editor well. In this blog he has chosen for the hyperbole and for Ava’s story a bit more to show the oddnes of the photo. I must admit that you are right. The man on the left doesn’t put his head on her shoulder, but I think he would have liked to. He’s standing very close. See you tomorrow at the office! :-)

Kind rgeards,


Mike de Souza

Beautiful photos, but you can clearly see that the gentleman his head is not on her shoulders. He is standing close, but nevertheless his head is not even touching her shoulders. Naughty you.

Frido Ogier

Don’t rub it in Mike :-)

Erik van Veenen

KLM my favorite

Frido Ogier

Mine too, Erik :-)

amir hamzah

nice to see your old collections, tq

Frido Ogier

Thanks Amir! You’re welcome.


penelope burreci

Interesting article. Those uniforms look very attractive and quite colourful.
Also lovely picture of Ava Gardner with crew members – obviously they had a
good time and enjoyed a joke or two, they all look so happy.

Frido Ogier

Thanks Penelope! The colourful uniforms didn’t last long. About five years later KLM introduced a new one called ‘pluriform’ which reffered to the different ways of use.

Kind regards,


Jan Gijzemijter

Heeft u een foto van Eddy W Dunlop, Gezagvoerder van de KNILM voor en gedurende de 2de wereld orrlog in Indonesia en Australie.

Frido Ogier

Wellicht dat deze foto in het archief te vinden is. U kunt het beste contact opnemen met het Maria Austria Instituut in Amsterdam dat de historische collectie van KLM beheert. Vriendelijke groet, Frido

William B. Collins

By chance do you have any photos of my father Captin John E. Collins? I believe he may have been standing by a DC-8 on the tarmac with a child for an advertisment in the 50’s or 60’s. He also may have had Mr. Sinatra as his passenger, if I rember correctly. Thanks, Bill

Frido Ogier

Dear Bill, I think there will be some in our archives. Please contact the Maria Austria Instituut in Amsterdam. This instistute manages the historical photo archive of KLM and can give you more inforation.

Kind regards,



I have to assume that the pilot on the left is the Captain, since the other is clearly identified as the First Officer. Did anyone notice the gent peering out of the window, above the First Officer? Last of all, is the “Flying Dutchman” a Lockheed Constellation?

Frido Ogier

Dear Richard, yes I noticed the man in the window above. Nice detail. This aircraft is a DC-4. The route Amsterdam-New York was operated by this type.

Kind regards,


stan Mason

Hi Frido, I’m a retired 45 year airline , now doing trace of Constellation last regaistered N7777 originally PH-TET then PH-LDT and now at Wroughton UK Science Museum which I recently visited. I have record of the aircraft with KLM but no pix of it while leased to Air ceylon. have histroy if aircraft while in USA and Rolling Stones tour of Oz right up to service with Lanzair ( I met Capt Duncan Baker at Coventry 1974), sale to Aces High then to Wroughton in 5 trucks. I learned from Aces High that a Dutch TV company made a documentary about the aircraft and I wondered if you had any info on this, and any of the aircraft in Air Ceylon colours or a link to KLM archivist.
Would be great to hear from you
Stan Mason.

Paul Plesman

The photo with the caption “Absurd service” is certainly a reminder of how customer driven airlines used to be compared to their current practice of nickle and diming their customers to death while providing the absolute minimal level of service they can possibly get away with.
The aviation industry as a whole is indeed in a sad state of affairs when it comes to customer service.
My guess is that my great-uncle, KLM’s founder, would be dismayed.



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