October 22, 2021

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Amsterdam to Sydney by KLM in 1952 – an epic journey

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Almost 70 several years in the past, travelling from Amsterdam to Sydney by KLM was an epic journey.

Travelling by air more than this kind of a extensive distance was anything at all but the norm – especially in terms of fares. All the fascinating specifics of a excursion by air on KLM in December 1952 from Amsterdam to Sydney and on to Melbourne have recently appear to light-weight.

The journey is meticulously archived in an remarkable hand-manufactured travel album documenting the flight and was located at a flea sector in Hamburg, Germany, – by the creator – for a mere €10 from a seller who had no idea about this treasure.

In this effectively-preserved glimpse into the put up-war previous of air journey, one particular can dig deep into what was in all probability the vacation of a life time for a specified Mr Ulrich Bertram, a German civil engineer hailing from Kiel, north of Hamburg, in what was then Western Germany.

According to the paperwork in his album, Bertram was sent on a 5-calendar year stint to Australia to oversee construction do the job, explained as a “business trip” in his customs documents.

These are also included in the album and give proof of the large paperwork preceding this sort of a trip at the time, not to point out the challenging processes to receive the needed visa.

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Meticulously, all his belongings carried on the excursion are outlined down to the smallest items and their respective worth, both in German and English, from his draughtsman overall to a tin opener.

His journey was originally due to get started on a KLM flight from Hamburg to Amsterdam, but in accordance to the ticket the dates had been adjusted and a rail ticket displays that Mr Bertram started the journey by right away prepare from Hamburg to Amsterdam on Monday, December 8th, 1952.

His airline ticket experienced been issued in November 1952, the 1-way fare from Amsterdam to Sydney currently being an amazing £298 – equal to about £3,000 now, or about A$5,560.

In 1952, this equalled pretty much a whole year’s income of an regular industrial employee in Germany. Which is what Mr Bertram’s organization paid out to expatriate him to Australia. His remaining vacation spot was Melbourne.

 

His trip by air began at 9 pm area time on Tuesday, December 9th, 1952 in Amsterdam. Assigned to the journey was KLM’s Lockheed L-749A Constellation registered PH-TFD. The aircraft christened “Arnhem” experienced been delivered new in May possibly 1950 and it remained with KLM in its distinctive “Flying Dutchman” livery until finally 1960.

KLM Constellation on static display. Credit score: Andre Wadman

The plane was geared up with 46 seats in 12 rows with 2+2 seating each and every. In accordance to his primary boarding move in the album, Mr Bertram was assigned seat L2, really near to the aircraft’s entrance in the pretty again.

The initially right away leg was to Beyrouth overflying Liège in Belgium, Zurich and Rome, as the carbon-copied paper bulletin circulated in the cabin from the cockpit suggests, supplying all essential details about the flight from crew names to the distances concerning waypoints.

Travellers were fed effectively, like obtaining addressed with lobster, as the menu card from the flight implies, curiously in French only, even though all other printed communication took place in both English or German.

From Beyrouth, flight KL823 flew on to Karachi, Bangkok and Manila, in which it arrived on Thursday, December 11th, 1952 at 4.20 pm community time, over 36 hrs soon after leaving the Netherlands.

In the Philippine cash, passengers have been on a regular basis set up in a luxury lodge as element of the itinerary, immediately after obtaining spent two consecutive nights on the noisy and vibrating Constellation.

On Friday early morning December 12th, 1952, the onward flight left early at 7 am nearby time to move forward to the up coming cease, Biak, now Indonesian Papua, then a Dutch abroad territory known as Dutch New Guinea.

It would rise to tragic fame five several years later when in July 1957, one more KLM Constellation on the return flight from Australia crashed with 58 victims. On this trip, it was a happier stopover, as it was the past a person right before Sydney and situated virtually precisely on the equator, earning travellers the equator baptism. In this situation in the type of a certificate mailed from Amsterdam right after completion of the journey, similarly involved in the journey album.

Then the Constellation took off for 1 a lot more time in the afternoon neighborhood time, achieving Sydney Mascot Airport (in distinction to Rose Bay h2o airport, served by traveling boats until finally 1955) at the ungodly hour of 3.15 am on Saturday, December 13th, 1952, immediately after just about 70 hrs underway.

But Mr Bertram hadn’t attained his final desired destination but, an Australian enterprise agent met him to hand around some regional dollars for initial incidentals (almost certainly impossible to acquire in Europe at the time). And also his domestic ticket on Australian Nationwide Airways (merged into Ansett in 1957) to Melbourne that very same morning, almost certainly on a DC-4, costing Australian £9 and 70 shillings, the equivalent of about A$470 these days.

Arriving at Essendon Airport, he was achieved by a driver to take him to his new temporary household in Geelong southwest of Melbourne. But regretably, he was not rejoined by his checked bag on arrival, which in accordance to the correspondence in the album only arrived in Sydney on December 16th and didn’t feel to have achieved Melbourne by December 22nd, 1952 even.

As stark as the contrast, primarily of the journey’s length may possibly be, when compared to traveling now, some hassles of air journey rarely appear to be to change, ever.

KLM

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