Video: Historic plane makes flying visit to Norwich Airport
PUBLISHED: 12:12 30 June 2014 | UPDATED: 12:12 30 June 2014
Touching down to a water cannon salute, this historic plane won a host of new fans at Norwich Airport.
The DC-3 Dakota plane
The historic plane used by KLM this weekend was a Douglas DC-3 Dakota built in 1944.
Her name is the PH-PBA Princess Amalia.
She was stationed at RAF Cottesmore, Rutland, with the 52nd Troop Carrier Wing at the tail end of the Second World War. After the fighting stopped she was stored in Germany until Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands bought her.
She was used by the Dutch government and royal family until the 1960s, went to a Dutch museum in the 1970s and was made airworthy again by volunteers in 1998.
The 70-year-old DC-3 Dakota has carried Allied troops in the Second World War, served the Dutch royal family and spent time in a museum.
But restored to her former glory by a team of volunteers, she was brought to Norfolk by the airline KLM this weekend to celebrate the firm’s 95th year of commercial flights.
There were four flights on Saturday, with lucky guests enjoying clear views of the East Anglian countryside.
Andrew Bell, chief executive of Norwich Airport, was on the first flight of the day.
And as he returned to the terminal building, decorated with bunting and with the Jonathan Wyatt Big Band playing, he was overwhelmed.
“If that aeroplane had a mouth to be able to talk about its life, it would be quite something,” he said. “You can feel the history of the aircraft.
“It’s really emotive, and it was a really smooth flight actually.”
The airport has long standing links with KLM, and Mr Bell said the special flights on Saturday emphasised this.
“The fact they bring the aircraft here and want to show it off in the region is partly because us and KLM work well together and are important to each other,” he explained. “I think they acknowledge the importance of the run over to Amsterdam, which allows us to fly on elsewhere without using a bigger airport.”
Warner Rootliep, general manager of Air France KLM UK and Ireland, said the firm had treated a mixture of people to flights on the DC-3 - from workers from KLM’s Norwich engineering and maintenance base, to competition winners and community figures. And he said from a personal perspective, it was an exciting day, and that pilots often said “jets make noise, this one makes music”,
He added: “The DC3 is such an iconic aircraft and it is a historic moment to welcome it to Norwich.
“Our regional bases are incredibly important to KLM and it is fantastic to be able to showcase our heritage to the local community.”
KLM has offered flights from Norwich International Airport for decades.
It currently runs four daily flights between Norwich and Amsterdam on a Fokker 70 aircraft equipped with 60 seats.
Long-standing links with the Fine City extend further, with KLM engineering and maintenance based in Norwich.
KLM UK Engineering has been working at the airport for more than 40 years and employs about 375 people.
They are dedicated to the maintenance of the aircraft of some of the most important airlines in the world including British Airways. KLM was founded in 1919 and merged with Air France in May 2004.