Resounding succes...

The ELTA was held from 1 August until 12 September 1919 and it was an enormous succes. For the Dutch it was the event of the year.
At every wall and advertising column was the poster with the pilot dressed as a arctic explorer.

Poster for the ELTA

In 42 days the exhibition was visited by over 500.000 people and 4000 of them dumbfounded their friends and family telling them they had fly!

This certificate was given to airpassengers after their first flight at the ELTA exhibition

Queen Wilhelmina opens the Elta, she is accompanied by Albert Plesman and General SnijdersFokker D7


First steps...

After the first World War, many people started to realize that the new and potent weapon, the aeroplane, could be used for more peaceful purposes, such as the transportation of passengers and cargo.

In the Dutch town of Soesterberg, a group of enthusiastic young men began dreaming up the wildest plans.

And, in november 1918, flying officers M.L.J. Hofstee and A. Plesman started to organise a civil air show.

During this period they met the balloonist Eddy Fuld, who introduced them to potential financiers. At the same time the Royal Dutch Avation Association (Koninklijke Nederlandse Vereniging voor Luchtvaart) was investigating the possibility of starting a scheduled flight service beteen Holland an England.

In addition, the Dutch government appointed a committee, who travelled to England to size up the situation.

The chairman of the KNVvL, van den Bergh van Heemstede, reviewed the findings of the government committee,


Queen Wilhelmina dated September 12th, 1919 bestowing royal patronage on the fledgling airline and creating the name it still proudly bears, KLM Royal Dutch AirlinesThe airline's first logo was also designed by one of Albert Plesman's friends: Engineer Dirk Roosenburg. This logo began known as the 'finch' logo and was to remain the KLM's trademark for many years

together with the banker and businessman A.G. Kroller.

By the spring of 1919, the two had found a group of businessman who were prepared to invest in the establishment of an airline company.

Eddy Fuld suggested that Albert Plesman should be appointed head of the company, provided that he succeeded in organising the First Amsterdam Aviation Exhibition (ELTA).

The letters most commonly associated with the history of Dutch aviation are in fact “K.L.M.,” which stand for Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij voor Nederland en Kolonien (“Royal Dutch Airlines” in English).

KLM on paper

At first, in 1919, the KLM only existed on paper.

A technical and administrative staff had to be formed, plans for flightservices had to be designed and equipment to be ordered.
Meatings abroad were held.

There was not much time, since foreign companies were active as well at that moment.
In this year the first planes whre chartered.


Chartering was preferable, due to the at that time giant steps in development of new aircrafts.

By the end of the 20th century, KLM had become one of world's largest airlines in terms of routes served.

KLM also has the distinction of being the world's oldest airline that is still operating, as well as the longest continually operating airline.


Albert Plesman knew that he would have to attract as many people as possible to his air show.

He realised publicity was required and approached his friend Brian in Soesterberg.
This military engineer, Pilot Officer H.G.B. de Kruyff van Dorssen, subsequently designed the famous poster (on the left) for the air show.

The ELTA was official opened by queen Wilhelmina at 1 august.

All tents were build at the Papaverweg in Amsterdam North, where later the Fokker Aircraft Factory was established.

Beside it was a field, where pilots could give flightdemonstrations. For 42 days it got very crowded in


the capital city! 4000 aerial tours were made. Price was 40 guilders, a lot of money at that time.

For months flying was the conversation of the day in the Dutch livingrooms and that would continue for years.

Population, that was at first hesitating, was now wildly enthusiastic. Train and car were accepted, aircraft got more and more appreciation.