AMSTERDAM — October 28, 2017, marked the end of an era as the last operating KLM Fokker F70 took to the skies for the final time.
Fokker and KLM — a dynamic duo of sorts — have worked hand-in-hand for nearly a century, with an incredible amount of history packed into the 97-year relationship.
KLM, the Dutch flag carrier, also happens to be the oldest airline in the world. And if you know aviation, you know the name Anthony Fokker — the namesake of the manufacturer which was founded in 1912.
The company quickly made a name for itself building aircraft for the German First World War. At the time, its founder saw better opportunities in Germany, which is where manufacturing first started. However, in 1919, Fokker moved back to the Netherlands and just one year later, KLM placed its first order: two F2s.
By the late 1920s, Fokker had become the world’s largest aircraft manufacturer, but an infamous crash just a few years later would undoubtedly taint the company’s reputation.
In 1931, a TWA F10 crashed in Kansas due to wood rot that ultimately caused structural failure. All eight passengers on board died, including legendary Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne. At the time, all U.S. Fokkers were grounded.
That same year, Anthony Fokker, who had been living in the U.S. since 1923, resigned from the American branch of his company, discontent after it merged with General Motors Corporation. Fokker died in 1939.
By the early 1950s, Fokker had built a new factory next to Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport. And in the 80s, the manufacturer developed two new aircraft: the F100 and the F70, which together with the F50, would play a tremendous part in KLM’s story.
In recent years, KLM has phased out the F50s and F100s, opting to replace them with more modern planes from Brazilian manufacturer Embraer. But the F70 itself paved the way for what would become a widely successful and much-needed airplane: the commuter jet.
KLM continued to utilize a handful of F70s on short Cityhopper flights between Amsterdam and other European cities. Those planes were slowly retired until only one remained, which was painted in a special livery honoring founder Anthony Fokker —The Flying Dutchman. The final flight, operated by an English captain, flew from London to Amsterdam on Saturday.
Fasten your seatbelts and join us on the final flight of the Fokker 70! pic.twitter.com/QgomfVVFVN
— Royal Dutch Airlines (@KLM) October 30, 2017
While the event was an emotional and understandably sad experience for many, the “Dutch Aviation Trinity” (Fokker, KLM, and Schipol) lives on and is symbolized in a monument that was unveiled at the airport Sunday.