On May 21 KLM Royal Dutch Airlines celebrated its 75th anniversary of continuous flying to New York from Amsterdam with a small ceremony held at JFK Terminal 4.
On the same date 75 years ago, KLM operated its first flight to what is now John F. Kennedy Airport in New York (JFK). After the Second World War, KLM was the first European airline to initiate service between Europe and America.
The flight was operated on a DC-4, which KLM was lucky enough to acquire straight after the war. The aircraft itself may have been a footnote in history since it very well could have been one of the DC-4’s that participated in the Berlin airlift.
With stops in Glasgow (Prestwick) and Gander, 25 and a half hours after departure, the flight landed at the then Idlewild Airport.
It had almost become a failure as an American Airlines DC-3 didn’t vacate the runway after landing while the KLM DC-4 was already on final approach; however, it all turned out fine.
The PH-TAR “Rotterdam”, which operated this flight, has remained in service with KLM until 1975 when it was retired and scrapped. However, another DC-4 (C-54A actually) has been painted in it’s colors and can be seen at the Aviodrome aircraft museum in Lelystad, the Netherlands
The fact that KLM has been offering passengers a direct connection between Amsterdam and New York for the past 75 years is a both a significant and symbolic milestone. Many of the important milestones in KLM’s history share a link to North America. What’s more, second to Europe North America is KLM’s biggest market.