Flying was an adventure | Interview

With a father as a telegraph operator and living in Amstelveen, then a KLM village, Linze Folkeringa grew up with aviation. He came to places that many can only dream of and that started before he even worked in this sector. However, the fact that flying was once as safe as it is now is also part of his many experiences.

During his teenage years, Linze often hopped on his bicycle to visit Schiphol East, which at the time was all about air traffic. Martinair was present with de Havilland Dove and KLM with Lockheed Constellation, Convair and DC-7. The DC-8 and DC-9 also presented themselves as KLM’s first jets. ‘You just walked onto the platform,’ says Linze. “There was an officer on a bicycle who kept an eye on things, but of course he could not be everywhere at once. We were about eight guys and took a sprint that often even got to Northwest Pier. We just stood with our noses straight on a DC-8 being towed, safety was not an issue. If that officer spotted us, he would send us off with a scrub, that’s all. ‘

Linze recalls another memory: ‘Just behind Connie’s cockpit (Lockheed Constellation; LK) was a door that was the first to be thrown up immediately upon arrival. The telegraph operator did, because the pilots and flight engineers were still busy at the time. I always saw my father come home and wave to him while he squatted in the small doorway. ‘

Telegraphist John Folkeringa, archive Linze Folkeringa

Join us on training flights

Linze quickly got into the planes himself. ‘When a new type came into the Navy, my brothers and I were able to take on training flights. My dad arranged it, everyone knew him. We could call the secretary of the synthetic flight training manager and a ticket was issued. But that stopped with the arrival of the DC-9. With that device, they ran short circuits. Many passengers became very ill and then had to stop. I myself have sometimes come out of a machine that breaks me. It was in a Super Constellation during a three-hour training flight. The coffin was placed on the platform. Three of the four engines continued to run as I disembarked. But after an hour I would go again ‘.

KLM’s first DC-9 arrives at Schiphol © Linze Folkeringa

Shit on the platform

For holiday work, Linze successfully knocked on the door of the airport. The work for both Martinair and AeroGround did not only consist of throwing suitcases and stacking very heavy boxes of flowers very high. ‘Plane toilet tanks should also be empty,’ says Linze. ‘We called it water play. The hose used for this was hung with one side in a carriage and with the other side attached to the valve of the toilet tank by means of a bayonet bracket. The tank then emptied into that wagon. But sometimes that wagon was not properly secured and it rolled away, literally all the shit ended up on the platform. It happened that someone got it all over them ‘.

Escapes a crash

During the time that Linze’s father worked as a telegraph operator, many machines crashed. ‘One was PH-TER “Roermond”, a Lockheed Constellation. All 33 passengers, including Captain Hans Plesman, son of KLM Director Albert Plesman, were on the 23rd.ste June, 1949. At that time, the plane flew permanently with the same base cockpit, so always the same captain with the same first BWK (flight engineer; LK) and the same first telegraph operator, so you got teams that were well coordinated one after the other. Only the co-pilot, the second BWK and the second telegraph operator were different. My dad flew with Hans by default. But he really wanted to go to New York one day, which was allowed. Otherwise he would have been on board at the time. ‘ The father of one of Linze’s friends escaped a similar crash. He had reported sick the day he was to fly to New York with PH-LKM “Hugo de Groot”, also a Lockheed Constellation. ‘Also, it just disappeared from the radio,’ says Linze. “Both my brothers and I were never allowed to open the door at night when the doorbell rang because of the chance that we would be confronted by two men in black suits who came with bad news.”

© Photographer Unknown / Anefo, CC BY-SA 3.0 EN, via Wikimedia Commons

Close circuit

Linze reminds the captain who made a misjudgment that caused Lockheed Electra PH-LLM “Sirius” to hit a hill. “It was his first flight as a captain. Twenty people died in the crash, even he could never work as a commercial pilot due to his injuries. Despite this, he was disciplined by disqualifying him from flying for three months. That man lived behind us. I always walked past his house. I felt terrible for him. Mentally he had become a wreck. I did not know how to deal with it. I had the same with children whose father was dead. Everyone knew all, it was a close circle, as if living on Texel.Now the crews are part of a multinational.You can fly with a colleague that you will never be associated with again.Joop van Heusden, a dignified tall man who for years made posters for KLM and later signed for Fokker, was our neighbor Jas Moll, chief pilot at Fokker, lived further down the road, later he was honored with the registration PH-MOL for the third prototype of Fokker F28. That man was a big storyteller.I was shaped by this mil yes. ‘

Muscles

Not only Linze, his two brothers also aspired to a job in the aviation world. Because all three were wearing glasses, it was not possible to become a pilot. Back then, even the slightest eye defect was reason to be rejected for flying. His oldest farmer became Station Manager, his twin brother Hofmeester Kort Verband, just like Linze himself. “I wanted to travel,” he says. ‘It started in shipping, where I worked for three years before I ended up at KLM. After three years, my contract expired and I finished as a steward. I got a position on the ground as a scheduler for the pilots, the BWKs and the cabin crew. As a result, I got to know three agreements very well, which later came in handy as a liaison committee member. One day, the former cabin crew received a letter from KLM asking them to re-enter as a flight attendant. Within a year I was able to develop as an assistant purser and some time later as a purser again. My twin brother John went through the same route. ‘ As smart as the name Hofmeester Kort Verband may sound, it was he who mainly worked in the pantry and had to have the muscles to pull containers forward.

Ice cold champagne

Lens often flew with his identical twin brother. Laughing: ‘Once we only had one passenger on First Class. We agreed to take turns serving that man. That man assumed we were one and the same stewardess. He did not know what he saw when he came out and suddenly saw two ‘. In their position, they came in contact with all kinds of celebrities, from members of the royal family to politicians to pop stars. “By default, a minister is equipped with two seats in the front row, so he has plenty of room for work. During a flight, I was dealing with a First Class passenger who was very unhappy with his seat on the plane. By the time he got on board, he had already struggled with everything. But it was an important customer for us. I first provided him with ice-cold champagne and then asked Frits Bolkestein, then Minister of Defense, if he thought it was a problem for someone to sit next to him. Not at all. In the end, it turned out not to be necessary, the champagne had become positive for the other man. ‘

A very lovable man

Linze laughs again when he mentions the way First Class passengers talked about Sergio Orlandini, KLM director from 1973 to 1987. He says in an influenced voice, ‘I played golf with him.’ With his normal voice, he continues: ‘All those industry captains obviously had to say that. One would almost think that Orlandini was just standing on the golf course. Orlandini himself was a very gracious man, everyone loved him. When he was on board, he did not want you to do anything for him. But I did not let it happen that he fumbled his coat somewhere, I hung it up nicely for him ».

A case of eye through the needle

Linze is very excited about the DC-8. ‘Suddenly there were jets. I kept watching it happen, wow, because it was a beautiful plane too. The Boeing 707 was much more successful, but the DC-8 was much more elegant. There were even songs about Plesman and the DC-8: “My DC-8, My Ideal.” When I became part of the cabin crew, I noticed that the long 8s could also wag their tails. During take-off or during turbulence, I sat at the very back of a spring seat, and then I could not see the front of that pipe drawer anymore. He continues in a soothing tone: ‘Completely harmless. The wings of a plane can also go up and down a lot. They have to, otherwise they break off ‘. That was another story during a DC-8 flight from Lisbon to Curaçao. “Sir, that wing hangs halfway,” was the reply to the steward on duty. He sees it looked really different than usual. On to the cockpit to inform the men there. The flaps went out during the landing. When you first landed, there was a bang as the flaps were brought in. The whole DC-8 shook. That whole flap was on the platform. If a flap falls during flight, the exercise is over. Case of the eye through the needle. ‘

super unsafe

‘With the arrival of the DC-8, among other things, the introduction of the autopilot was also given,’ says Linze. ‘Some pilots took advantage of it. At the time, KLM had a joint venture with Philippine Airlines. Until Karachi there was a KLM cockpit, the rest of the flight a Philippine Airlines cockpit. The cabin crew was half and half during the entire flight. I had just been a steward, we had passed Karachi in the meantime. In the long 8, there were five seats immediately behind the cockpit. On one, the captain ate breakfast, on the other, BWK read the newspaper, and the co-pilot sat on the toilet. Super unsafe because only something has to happen that immediately requires the intervention of the crew. KLM has terminated that agreement and changed it to a purely technical agreement. ‘

bad boys

Times have changed a lot anyway. ‘The cockpit crew regularly treated the passengers and themselves with a low pass, for example around Table Mountain or Kilimanjaro. It was possible, but now the OCC (Operations Control Center; LK) can see everything they follow you. ‘ He adds with a laugh: ‘In fact, they were pretty bad boys. Flying was an adventure! Flying was also a luxury. Everyone dressed nicely. There were no jeans, shorts, T-shirts, sweaters and sneakers. My brother once found men on board such clothing, aboard the Royal Class in one of our first Boeing 747s. They were people from a fairly popular band. ” He ends with a smile: ‘I have always wanted to experience a lot. And it happened. I’ve been to all sorts of places around the world. Had even flying lessons on a Piper PA-38 Tomahawk, parachuted, sailed at sea. ‘ And Linze, who is now well over seventy, is still experiencing a lot. Not only as a husband, father and grandfather, but also as a driver who drives leasing cars from one place to another. “Do you know what’s so wonderful?” he asks in conclusion. With a smile from ear to ear, he answers himself: ‘My father, my two brothers and I have completed almost 120 years of service at KLM.’

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