Three Unique KLM Aircraft

Certainly until the Second World War, KLM was a major consumer of Fokker aircraft. Fokker even built some of them especially for KLM. This blog features three unique KLM aircraft: Fokkers. Each of which KLM had only one in its fleet.

Fokker had a wide variety of aircraft types in production, all of which differed considerably in size and flight range. Over the course of the years up to 1940, KLM had twelve different Fokker models in use—some more successful than others. Some remained in the fleet for a long time; some less so.

Arend op Waalhaven LOGO

Fokker F.XXXVI, 1934-1939

We’ll start with the largest one: the Fokker F.XXXVI, no. 36, in other words. The aircraft is unique. It is the only one of its kind. The aircraft was dubbed Arend (Eagle). Its registration was PH-AJA. Because of its large and luxurious interior, it bore the nickname “the flying hotel”. It could carry up to thirty-two passengers divided among four compartments, each with eight seats. In just a few simple manoeuvres, the seats could be transformed into beds, so the aircraft could sleep sixteen.

Arend interieur LOGO

The four-engine aircraft did five years of service for KLM. The Arend was a remarkable aircraft that drew a great deal of attention, in part because of its size. Nevertheless, the technology it employed was quickly passed by new and different construction techniques, for instance, in the United States, where the DC-2 was built. Following the success of the DC-2 Uiver (a Dutch dialect word for Stork) the aircraft model was deployed on the route to the Dutch East Indies. Originally, though, the Fokker had had that honour. Thereafter the Arend was put onto European routes and brought countless tourists to the Dutch island of Texel off the coast of North Holland, less than a hundred kilometres from Schiphol Airport. It saved on the wait for the ferry, which could get very long.

Zilvermeeuw LOGO

Fokker F.XX, 1933-1936

This particular Fokker differed in a number of important ways from the other three-engine aircraft that Fokker had developed. As a result of different frame construction, the hull was far rounder and the engines were equipped with rounded cowls for greater streamlining. Another important aerodynamic improvement was the brand-new retractable landing gear — the wheels stowed in the engine nacelles. All the innovations resulted in a maximum air speed of 250 kilometres per hour, a considerable improvement over the previous Fokkers which could not fly faster than 205 kilometres per hour on average.

Just when the new aircraft, de Zilvermeeuw (Silver Gull), was about to embark on a legendary flight—the Christmas mail flight of 1933—fate stepped in. Just before takeoff, the nose engine gave out and the aircraft was replaced by a Fokker F.XVIII, de Pelikaan (the Pelican). The PH-AIZ Zilvermeeuw did service from 1933 to 1936 on the London-Amsterdam-Berlin route. It could carry twelve passengers. Despite all its innovations, it turned out to be uneconomical and the landing gears and engines were ridden with problems. So only one was ever built.

Adelaar LOGO

Fokker F.IX, 1930-1936

If I’m completely honest, I’ll have to admit I’m cheating here just a bit. Originally KLM had two of this particular model in service. However one was seriously damaged in August of 1931 during an emergency landing at Waalhaven Airport. That particular aircraft had done a total of seven months of service. Fortunately, the first of its kind, the PH-AGA Adelaar (the name for an eagle in heraldry), held on for longer, doing six years of service for KLM. At KLM’s request, the Fokker F.IX was designed for the route to the Dutch East Indies. At the time of its delivery, this aircraft also had some special innovations, particularly in terms of passenger comfort.

The seats had movable headrests and there was a pantry on board in which to cook meals. Grilles in the walls brought warm air into the cabin, keeping passengers warm even at high altitudes. Seats could be adjusted depending on the route. On the flight to the Dutch East Indies, the aircraft carried four or six seats. On European flights it could carry eighteen passengers. In November of 1930, the Adelaar flew its maiden voyage to Indonesia. And it went quickly, arriving at its destination in thirteen days and returning in twelve. Even so, the aircraft was no longer deployed on the route. Instead, it earned its keep on the Amsterdam-London route.

For the connoisseurs: in the background from left to right – a Rohrbach Roland, a Junkers G24 and a Caspar C-35 Priwall. The KLM aircraft next to the Eagle is a Fokker F.VIIA.

Posted by:   Frido Ogier  | 
Join the conversation Show comments


That’s an interesting read. I flew with VLM from the City Airport into Rotterdam on a Fokker; a Fokker 50 perhaps? Are KLM / VLM still using Fokker aircraft?

Frido Ogier

Dear Chris, thanks! VLM still has, as far as I know, several Fokker 50 aircraft in its fleet. KLM, to be more specific KLM Cityhopper, fased out its Fokker 50’s a few years ago.

Kind regards,


Gerard Exmann

Dear Frido, could you do a story on the F28 sometime ?

Kind regards


Frido Ogier

Dear Gerard, I’ll keep it in mind!

Best regards,



When I was flying from Dubai to Shiraz in Iran with an Iranian airliner, looking at the safety instructions, I was feeling so proud and so safe to fly for the first time a Fokker. I do know that private Dutch investeren bought all the Fokker 100 ‘s from all over the world. They restored and maintained them to sell them again. Good flight!

Frido Ogier

Nice to know Martin. Thanks for sharing!

Best regards, Frido

Jan Hemink

This blog is more than a treat to aviation enthusiastic people for historical KLM-ACFT Frido. Tks for the informative story and the very nice picts, in particular the one with the Silver Gull, the F XX. Underneath the belly a wonderful view of the former SPL-28 terminal and even a hangar to the right.

Frido Ogier

Thanks Jan! You see what I saw when selecting the photo’s for this blog :-) Three special elements in one picture.

Best regards,


Erik van Veenen

Interesting to read.
Did the KLM ever have any Spykers in its fleet.

Frido Ogier

Thanks Erik, KLM didn’t have Spyker aircraft in its fleet.

Kind regards,


Pedro Sánchez Mejorada

Lookiing forward for new articles

Frido Ogier

Thanks! They will follow soon, Pedro!

Best regards,


Lolita M. Balboa

Very nice blog. Educational indeed. Many thanks for sharing.

Frido Ogier

Thanks Lolita!

Best regards,



Great pictures of beautiful aircraft. Thank you JO Johannesburg.

Frido Ogier

Thanks Jo!

Kind regards,


jagath rupasiri

It’s a npce blog.

Tony Imlach


I am Tony Imlach 63 yrs of age living in Swansea in the UK, I have found a very small spoon (possibly the size of a sugar spoon for cups of tea?) which I have inherited from my parents passing. It has in the spoons bowl an engraving of a Tri Motor aeroplane. The handle has the words KLM Pelikaan engraved vertically on it.

Doing a google search I came across this blog site and wondered if it was still active and if KLM might have some interest in such an old spoon? I am assuming that my father obtained it around the time of his service in Europe during world war 2.
my direct e.mail address is

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