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National Aerospace Museum Aviodome-Schiphol

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All you would like to know about a virtual parachute jump in the Aviodome

In 1960 an aviation museum was opened at Schiphol, the Aeroplanorama. The current museum, the Aviodome, was founded on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Fokker Aircraft, KLM and Schiphol Airport in 1969/1970. Since the opening of the new airport Schiphol-Centrum, the unique Aviodome building has been situated at its present location. The aluminium dome has a 60 metre span and it hosts more than 20 aircraft.

A visit to the Aviodome is like a flight through aviation history. The exhibition shows the progress of aviation, from the early pioneers up to modern and future developments. Emphasis lies on the Dutch contribution to aviation development. There are lots of aeroplanes and engines on display. Numerous models and other objects such as flight equipment, documents and souvenirs help to complete a detailed impression of aviation history. At regular intervals films about aviation, among which a documentary on the return of the famous DC-2 'Uiver' are shown in the amphitheatre which is situated under the balcony in the centre of the dome. The upper floor is reserved for temporary exhibitions.

The museum is much more than just a number of static exhibits. Visitors can fly a flightsimulator or make a virtual skydive. You can also take a guided tour on the aprons of Schiphol Airport. Occasionally, special events such as flights in helicopters or vintage aeroplanes are organised. The staff of the Aviodome will be happy to provide you with more information.

Anthony Fokker & the Fokker Aircraft Company
In Germany the technically and commercially talented Anthony Herman Gerard Fokker (1890-1939) built a plane of his own design: the 'Spin' (Spider). In Holland Fokker first became famous flying the plane above Haarlem in 1911. The 'Spin' exhibited in the Aviodome was built to celebrate Anthony Fokker's silver jubilee as a pilot. During World War I, Fokker built over 7.000 fighters for the German Air Force. One of the most famous and most feared fighters was the Fokker Dr.I triplane of 1917. After the German defeat Anthony Fokker secretly moved his factory and aircraft to the Netherlands.

On July 21, 1919, the Fokker Aircraft Company was founded, it produced military aircraft and Fokker's first commercial airliner: the F.2. In the museum visitors can witness the building of an F.2 replica in a setting which resembles the original Fokker factory of the early 1920s. In 1924 Fokker also founded the Atlantic Aircraft Corporation in the United States. In those times Fokker was one of the world's most famous aircraft designers. His most successful military design was the C.5; this biplane remained in production for 10 years from 1924-1934. During this period more than 900 C.5's were built by Fokker and, under license, other factories. It could be equipped with various upper wings for use in different roles. The C.5 could be used as an observer, a fighter or a light bomber. A C.5 manufactured in 1924 is on display in the Aviodome. One of the most famous passenger aircraft is the F.7, first built by Fokker in 1924. One year later, a few modifications resulted in the highly successful Fokker F.7a., one of the most important civil aircraft in its day. The Aviodome has a completely restored 1927 F.7a on display. The F.7a was built on the principle of "mixed construction": a wooden wing and a fabric-covered steel tube fuselage. This construction method was introduced in Word War I and was followed by many constructors. This technique was maintained until the arrival of the all-metal passenger aircraft in the mid 1930's.

After World War II Fokker started building jet fighters under licence. Soon afterwards the factory designed its own jet: the S.14. The S.14 was the world's first jet specifically designed as a trainer. At the same time Fokker also produced the more traditional S.11 primary trainer and developed a new twin engined turboprop airliner: the F-27, which became very successful. The F.27 Friendship was introduced in 1958. With 786 aircraft produced, the F.27 became the world's most widely sold turboprop airliner. The F.27 was followed by the F.28, Fokker's first passenger jet. The F.27 was succeeded by the F.50/F.60 and the F.28 by the F.70/F.100 series. Two modern product lines renown for their quality. Despite the quality of its products and a history of more than 77 years the Fokker Aircraft Company was unable to survive. Fokker's history ended when the Dutch planemaker went bankrupt on March 15, 1996.

The other Dutch planemaker: Frits Koolhoven
The name of the Dutch aircraft constructor Frits Koolhoven is much less known than the name of Anthony Fokker, although Koolhoven was a very productive designer. In 1911 he built his first aeroplane. Later Koolhoven worked in France and in England. Here Koolhoven built the first passenger aircraft, the FK-26, in 1919. In 1930, after returning to his native country Koolhoven founded his own aircraft factory at the airfield of Waalhaven, near Rotterdam. Koolhoven designed and built a considerable number of aircraft types before the factory was completely destroyed during the bombing of Rotterdam in May 1940. The large number of models displayed in the museum provides proof of Koolhoven's creativity and productivity.

Aviation Pioneers
After having made an intensive study on the flight of birds, Otto Lilienthal made more than 1000 glides between 1890 an 1896. His gliders had no aerodynamic control, Liliental influenced the glide path by moving his legs, thus shifting the centre of gravity. The lack of adequate controls caused his death as a result of a crash in 1896. The large number of flights and the publications written by this German pioneer resulted in a great interest in the problems of flight. During the first years of the 20th century two American brothers, Orville and Wilbur Wright, investigated the problems experienced by Lilienthal. They were the first to apply aerodynamic controls. The Wrights built their "Flyer" in 1903 and equipped it with a self-constructed petrol engine. On the 17th of December of that year Orville Wright made the first controlled and sustained powered flight. During this first flight a distance of 36 metres was covered. Frenchman Louis Blériot was another successful pioneer. In 1909 he made the first cross-Channel flight with his model XI. After this flight Blériot XI's were sold in many countries. Many pilots used this plane to give demonstrations, making aviation popular among the general public.

The Aviodome-collection
Taking into consideration the limited space the museum has at its disposal, not all aircraft can be viewed by the public. A large part of the collection is on display in the Aviodome at Schiphol-airport Amsterdam. A smaller part is in the Uiverdome in Lelystad, the museum dedicated to the DC-2 that played such an important role in the London-Melbourne race of 1934. Another part of the collection is housed in the ballooning museum Zep/allon, also in Lelystad. The remaining part of the Aviodome’s aeronautical collection will be kept in storage until the museum is relocated to the new Aviation Theme Park in Lelystad in 2003. The museum at Amsterdam Airport will be opened for the public until 2003 and new temporary exhibitions will keep on being organised. Underneath you will find a brief description of the most important aircraft currently on display.

The Spitfire, designed by the brilliant British aircraft designer R.J. Mitchell, became famous by its role in the Battle of Britain in 1940. By continuously developing new versions the Spitfire remained a modern fighter throughout the war. The entire production covered a number of 22,351 planes. Some 200 still exist in museums or are used as flying display aircraft. From 1942 a Dutch Spitfire squadron based in England formed a part of the RAF. Right after the Second World War, 72 Spitfires served the Royal Netherlands Air Force. The Spitfire in the Aviodome was manufactured late 1943/early 1944 and escorted allied bombers over Germany. In 1946 it joined the Dutch forces. The Aviodome Spitfire is shown in the colours of those flown in the Dutch Indies shortly after World War 2.

Civil airliners
The single-engined Fokker F.7a carried eight passengers and was ordered by KLM in 1923. With this plane KLM opened up its route to the Dutch Indies in 1924. Later Fokker also built a three-engined F.7. The F.7a which is on display in the Aviodome was built in 1927-28 for the Swiss carrier Balair. Later the aircraft flew in Scandinavia. In 1955 the plane was purchased for the Dutch National Aviation museum by KLM and Fokker. The aircraft is displayed in the colours of the first KLM F.7 of 1925. Between 1983 and 1989 the plane underwent a complete restoration. The Douglas DC-3 appeared in 1935 after the slightly smaller DC-2, which was one of the first all-metal airliners. Many airlines operated the DC-2 and DC-3. With these fast and comfortable aircraft commercial aviation made a large step ahead. In World War II Douglas developed a military version of the DC-3, the C-47. The plane became famous under the name ‘Dakota’. 12000 Dakotas have flown in almost every part of the world. After having been replaced by more modern designs in the major airlines, they remained in use for various transport tasks and some are still flying today. The C-47 in the Aviodome is exhibited in the post-war KLM colour scheme. The museum’s DC-2 ‘Uiver’, which is kept in airworthy condition, is on display at the Uiverdome in Lelystad. The De Havilland Dove is shown in a Martin’s Air Charter guise. Around 1960 Martin’s Air Charter Doves operated popular pleasure flights from Schiphol. The Dove was the first post-war British airliner. It is the first aircraft in which metal bonding has been applied. Later this method became important in the construction of the Fokker F.27 Friendship (an F-27 serves as a ‘gate-guard’ at the entrance to the museum). Several Doves were used in Holland as business aircraft or by air charter companies.

The Sikorsky S-51 was one of the first helicopters. Equipped with a winch many S-51's were used for rescue operations. The S-51 in the Aviodome is shown in Dutch Navy livery, named ‘Jezebel’ (after a popular recording by singer Frankie Laine). The S-51 is placed in a real-life diorama and can be seen as it saves a victim of the 1953 floods from a roof.

An interesting Dutch helikopter design is the Kolibri (Humming Bird). The rotor blades are driven by small ramjet engines attached to the blade tips. Ramjets are jets without moving parts, burning cheap fuels, e.g. paraffin oil. Because the propulsion forces act at the blades the fuselage is hardly effected by reaction torque, consequently a small tail rotor is sufficient. Since 1958 Kolibris were used for agricultural crop spraying.

During the second half of the 1950's the Hawker Hunter flew in most West European air forces. Its maximum speed in level flight was about 1150 km/h (714 mph) but in a dive the Hunter was able to break the sound barrier. The Hunter’s wing has the shape of an arrowhead, facilitating these high speeds. Many hunters were built by Fokker at Schiphol. The Hunter in the Aviodome is shown in the colour scheme of the no.4 Training School at RAF Valley.

In the Dutch Air Force the Hunter was succeeded by the supersonic Lockheed F-104G Starfighter. This plane was capable of flying twice the speed of sound. It has a small wing with a very thin aerofoil to diminish resistance of the air. Starfighters were built in several European countries, with Fokker’s being one of the main contractors. Dutch Starfighters were replaced by General Dynamics F-16 Falcons from 1984 onwards. The F-104 starfighter in the Aviodome is a twin-seat trainer used by the Royal Dutch Air Force.

If you have questions about the Aviodome, you can contact us at:

Nationaal Luchtvaartmuseum Aviodome-Schiphol
Westelijke Randweg 201, 1118 CT Luchthaven Schiphol
Telefoon 020-4068000, Fax 020-4068001, Email info@aviodome.nl

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