Miss Santa Monica and the DC-9

It’s quite a long way from Amsterdam to Santa Monica. Passengers have never flown this route, because the American city isn’t part of KLM’s network. But Santa Monica does have an important historical link with KLM, as I’ll explain this blog, which is all about KLM’s DC-9 fleet. The first was called the “Amsterdam” and the last the “Santa Monica”, which is where the McDonnell-Douglas factories were located.

On 26 March 1966, KLM celebrated a European first, welcoming the brand new DC-9 “Amsterdam” with all due pomp and ceremony, accompanied by the KLM brass band. All the others were also named after European cities except the last, but they didn’t know that back in 1966.

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Second step in the Jet Age

The arrival of the DC-9 marked KLM’s second step in the Jet Age, after the introduction of the DC-8. Despite having a higher number, the DC-9 was smaller than its predecessor. The aircraft had two engines mounted at the rear end of the fuselage. The KLM configuration seated 73 passengers; 65 in Tourist Class and eight in First Class, with rows of three and two seats on the aisle. The DC-9 had a maximum range of 2,200 kilometres and an average cruising speed of 900 km/h.

With the arrival of the DC-9, KLM took leave of two propeller-driven aircraft, the Vickers Viscount and the Lockheed Electra, both of which were mostly flown on European routes, which was exactly where the DC-9 was to be deployed.

After the last Lockheed Electra left the fleet in 1969, KLM had a highly balanced fleet consisting almost entirely of jet-propelled McDonnell-Douglas aircraft (there were two propeller-driven Fokker F27s).

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Popular screeching bird

During the 1970s and ‘80s, the DC-9 was a popular visitor at European airports. Because the DC-9 fleet consisted of various different types, it offered flexible capacity. But not everyone was equally pleased, with one Dutch cabaret artist singing about a DC-9 screeching low over Buitenveldert, an Amsterdam suburb that lies under one of the approach routes to Schiphol Airport. The song will, no doubt, have contributed to the fame of the aircraft.

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Special occasion

The delivery of the 25th KLM DC-9 was a special occasion for KLM as well as the manufacturer, which had made a lot more of these aircraft, of course. In fact, this was the 1000th DC-9 to roll out of the factory. In short, an auspicious occasion, which was acknowledged with a one-off break with the naming tradition, which led to the PH-DOB being named “Santa Monica”. The christening of the aircraft was preceded by an almost ritual gathering of European river water from the Rhine, Danube, Seine, Thames and even the Amstel. This water was then brought to California and mixed with water from Santa Monica Bay, which was then poured over the aircraft by none other than Miss Santa Monica 1980-81. Unfortunately, European river water was a lot less clean in those days, which meant the christening left the aircraft with a grey streak running down its side.

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From nine to 100

The final farewell came in 1989, nine years after the “Santa Monica” joined the fleet. KLM’s 25 DC-9s had flown a combined total of 770,000 flight hours, completing 700,000 flights, carrying 40 million passengers. All the more reason for a spectacular farewell party.

More than 200 KLM staff gathered at Schiphol East on a muggy March morning, for a roundtrip with the two last remaining DC-9s, the “Utrecht” and the “Santa Monica”. The two aircraft flew out to Soesterberg airbase, where the “Santa Monica” was escorted by two US Air Force F15s before landing. This marked the end of an era. By then the DC-9s had been replaced by the Fokker 100, which was a lot less screechy.

Posted by:   Frido Ogier  | 
Join the conversation Show comments

Andre Ran

Prachtig stuk geschreven! Trotse KLM historie.

Frido Ogier

Dankjewel André :-)


Otto Lauinger

Hi Frido
I wonder, if your statement, the DC9 being replaced by the Fokker F100, is (fully) correct? In my memory, it was mainly replaced by the Boeing 737, of which the PH-BDA was the first and delivered to KLM in autumn 1986.



Frido Ogier

Hi Otto,

It’s a matter of interpretation, I think. The Fokker 100 is a bit larger than a DC-9, but similar in range and size. The 737 is a bit larger, in range and number of passengers. With two types of aircraft for the middle-haul flights there’s more flexibility in capacity. Hou can compare it with the Embraer 190 and the 737-series KLM uses for this kind of routes today. Because of the delay in delibery of the Fokker 100 the DC-9 stayed longer in the KLM fleet in the late 80’s than expected.

Kind regards,


Rob de Jager

Hi Frido,

“The KLM configuration seated 73 passengers; 65 in Tourist Class and eight in First Class, with rows of three seats on either side of the aisle.” As the photo shows this is not correct.
DC-9’s had a 3 + 2 seating arrangement.

Yvonne Couzijn

Eventhough I’ve been flying the DC-9 for a short period as a cabin crewmember, before flying Intercontinental flights, I have some other memories to share.
I remember two exits: 1 through the lefthand front door and the other through the tail, which I never experienced again on any other aircraft.

One day, having landed on Tempelhof Airport in East-Germany (much to my surprise the regular airport for KLM), and waiting for passengers to board for the returnflight, a man came running down the tarmac, carrying a briefcase.
He boarded via the tail, screaming that he was a spy and needed help to get out of the country.
Not knowing what to do, I informed the Purser, who informed the Captain, who came to take a look at this stranger.
The man opened his briefcase and showed all kind of documents with “TOP SECRET” stamped on them.
Having no other option than to warn the Military Police, the man was escorted off the plane, never to be heard of again…..

Another memory, less exciting, was that we also flew with a DC-9 that had no luggage-bins, just long shelves overhead on both sides from front to rear, for passengers to leave their light luggage on, like coats and umbrellas.
The reason being, they could easily take out the complete interior and change it into a freighter.

These memories go back to the late ’70s, so I hope I remember them well….

Hans Hoefnagels

The DC-9 was used for European routes. I think the combination of 770.000 flight hours and 70.000 flights can’t be right as this would mean more than ten hours per flight. Then you mention three seats on either side of the isle, while the picture shows three on one side and two on the other ;-)


Frido Ogier

Beste Hans, wat betreft de configuratie, daar heb je zeker een punt. Ik had even beter naar de foto moeten kijken, dan had ik deze vergissing niet hoeven maken. Wat betreft jouw andere opmerking, dat zou ik eens na moeten kijken. De Wolkenridder uit 1989 meldt deze cijfers. Het kan zijn dat ze in dit geval 70.000 retourvluchten bedoelden, dan wordt het aantal vlieguren wat geloofwaardiger. Mocht ik hier betere inzichten uit kunnen halen, dan meld ik me zeker weer!



Alwin Niemeijer

De DC9 vloog ook naar Ankara en Casablanca, met tussenlanding in Lissabon. Caïro weet ik niet meer, misschien ook.
Verder laat de foto de ‘korte’ DC9 zien, het merendeel van de DC9 vloot bestond uit de langere versie, de 30 serie.
Opmerking over de configuratie is gelukkig al gecorrigeerd.

Frido Ogier

Inmiddels zijn de fouten in het blog hersteld. Zowel de configuratie als het aantal vluchten. Dank voor de oplettendheid. Mijn blog wordt dus goed goed gelezen :-)

Boudewijn Scholts

Please subscripe me to your blog!

Frido Ogier

Dear Boudewijn, when you scroll to the bottom of this page you see ‘subscribe’. You only have to fill in your email adress and everything is arranged!

Best regards,


penelope burreci

Thanks for an interesting article of older aircraft and days gone by.
Well done.

Frido Ogier

Thank you, Penelope.

Kind regards,


Jan Hemink

Nice story to read Frido about the KLM – workhorse in the 70th. Perhaps you remember the DC-9-33RC also operated by KLM. These acft flew in a passenger configuration during daytime and were Rapidly Changed, almost every evening, into freighter DC-9’s to be used on routes to Norway and Sweden and other airports by night. At the beginning of my nightshift I often informed the crew on the significant weather en route. Martinair also operated the DC-9RC but one of these acft was not of the RC-type. The PH-MAX was an ordinary one which flew for some time in the well known blue colours.

Frido Ogier

Thanks Jan! Before I wrote my blog I did some research and found the photo’s of the Rapid Change. One of the benefits of the DC9!

Best regards,


Jacques Machiels

Upon returning from vacation it was a pleasant surprise to see PH-DOB “Santa Monica” appear in your blog
I have some fond memories, since as a DC-9 engineering pilot I was present at the christening ceremony and I did as well the acceptance test flight and subsequent ferryflight across the North Atlantic to Schiphol.
Actually the aircraft was, at the ceremony not yet completely ready, but the ceremony had been scheduled beforehand.
The first and second test flights were on July 15 and 19 and we were scheduled to leave for AMS on the 22 nd.
On that day I was the subject of another small ceremony executed by Pete Conrad, former NASA astronaut and then VP Public Relations at Douglas.
Just before departure he came to wave us off, but before doing so he took a pair of scissors from his pocket and cut of my uniform tie!
At the Douglas flight line was a small cubicle where aircraft were dispatched. Inside on the wall were the ties of all captains leaving on aircraft having a special significance, such as this 1000 th DC-9 order. Fortunately he supplied me with a Douglas tie, this being the only occasion where I have been wearing a non standard KLM tie on my uniform.
As the DC-9 was a short- and medium haul aircraft the delivery flight required a number of intermediate landings.
In two days time I flew the aircraft, together with co-pilot Leen Quist, from Long Beach via Minneapolis, Québec, Goose Bay and Keflafik to AMS totalling a flight time of 14 hrs 10 minutes.
Afterwards I did many happy flights on the -DOB.
The people on the picture are f.l.t.r Tena Montoya (Miss Santa Monica), J.Dekker (KLM VP U.S.) ,J. Bambrick (mayor S. Monica) and J.Brizendine (President Douglas Aircraft). The Dutch pewter vase was a present from KLM.

As a clarification I can add that at this time KLM was operating the DC-9 in an all economy 108 seat configuration.

Frido Ogier

Dear Jacques,
Thanks for your nice message! Very pleased to read your memories, some details I knew, but didn’t use, but most of these were quite new to me. These are a fine addition to my blog!

Best regards,


Peter Hart

Ik was als leerling vliegtuigmonteur ingedeeld voor de eerste grote inspectie van de PH-DNA, wat vliegt de tijd!

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