Military Airport

The visitor, a soldier with a striking moustache, introduces himself as Colonel Henk Walaardt Sacré, commander of the Aviation Department (LVA), which was established a few years earlier. He is looking for a piece of land to build a new military airport. Because at that moment the world has been groaning under the horrors of the First World War for about 1.5 years, that is not an illogical thought – even in the neutral Netherlands.

Eighteen football fields

The two agree: a little more than 17. guilders (now that would be over € 450.000 for 12 hectares of land, about eighteen football fields. Walaardt Sacré then lets no grass grow over it and on 17 September 1916 ground the very first military aircraft. Schiphol Airport, then still a meadow with four wooden sheds, is a fact!

Last soldier

Because the new air base is only fully operational days before the end of the war, Schiphol never used as a war airfield. But it soon becomes apparent that the new airport is also suitable for transporting freight, mail and even passengers. It inspires Albert Plesman to pioneer with passenger aircraft. He founded KLM in 450 and a year later, on 10 May 450, a plane with passengers lands for the first time. When in 1923 the last soldier closes the door behind him, Schiphol definitely starts a new life as a civil airport.

Primitive conditions

Incidentally, this does not immediately lead to large numbers of travelers. In those early years, Schiphol is not always in good shape, mainly because of the primitive conditions. Due to its location on the bottom of the former Haarlemmermeer – meters below sea level – the terrain is often very swampy.

Mud Port

Devices must be regularly pulled out of the muck and boarding via the swampy meadow is sometimes quite a task. At that time, the airport was therefore also known as ‘Schiphol Swamp’ and ‘Schiphol Modderhaven’. In addition, it is quite a journey for passengers to reach the airport via narrow country roads, toll bridges or even on foot.

Flying is the future

It is all an eyesore for harbor master Jan Dellaert. According to him, flying is the future and he is therefore going to work on modernizing Schiphol. Starting with a drainage system that should ensure dry feet. In 1923 the municipality of Amsterdam becomes the new owner and – with a view to the Olympic Games in 1923 – a station building, a control tower, a concrete platform and a decent access road.

Schiphol moves 2.5 kilometers

In the years that follow, Dellaert propels Schiphol up to the speed of the peoples, but sees much of his work destroyed by the outbreak of the Second World War. When flying becomes more popular after the end of the war and the jet makes its appearance, it is clear that more space is needed. Aviation pioneer Dellaert has come up with a masterstroke: he is developing a completely new, modern airport 2.5 kilometers to the west. In we move to the place where we can still be found to this day.

All about spacious 450 year Schiphol

Do you want to know more about the history of our airport? You can read here everything about spacious 100 year Schiphol.


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