Our Douglas DC-2 Uiver's story about it's first flight from London (Mildenhall)-Batavia-Melbourne, is a short version of the personal diary from Roelof Jan Domenie.
The problem to find a story only about the DC-2 to Batavia and/or Melbourne is harldy possible since it's a combined flight (story) of the Uiver itself. It was a regular
passenger flight with a stop-over at Batavia and immediately doing the handicap race to Melbourne. Nether less it's a great story to read.
Thanks to Rob Cappers, the Uiver's dairy is now available for our members. On behalf of the KLM-VA Staff we would like to thank Rob Cappers and congratulate him with
his awesome Uiver website.
Saturday morning October 20th 1934. It's 6:34 AM. Here we go. The Seventh airplane. We have an excellent start. In a few seconds we are
already airborne. A sensational feeling. Mildenhall is already behind us. Ever higher. To our left and below us I see two other airplanes.
At 7:00 AM we have reached 2,000 meters (altitude) and continue our climb. We are over the English Channel at 3,400 meters. We have a light
wind from the North West which will help us. The weather is glorious. Couldn't be better. Parmentier has just stuck his nose through the
open door to tell us that we may bypass Marseille and head directly for Rome. Great guys. I can already see the French Coast.
Flying to Batavia in those days was almost a regular service however, impressive navigation equipment was not onboard, even
autopilot didn't exists so it was flying by hand and still looking to rivers, coastlines etc. The DC2 was followed by the most famous aircraft
ever built, de Dakota DC3. Unfortunately the Uiver had a short live with the KLM. During a special Christmas on December 21st 1934 to Batavia the PH-AJU
had a deadly crash in the desert 16 kilometers south of Rutbah Wells (Syria).
According to the flight engineer we are averaging about 330 KPH (Kilometres per hour). We continue our ascent, now at 3,600 meters. Far below
us we see the land pass us by. We are far above the clouds below us. Below it appears to be a huge snowfield. Every so often we see land through
a break in the clouds. We must really be going fast. The flight engineer is also the cook and steward. He has just offered us some smoked eal
(a real Dutch delicacy). We get to know each other better. Fraulein Rasche is busy writing her reports, which she will send home from Rome. And G.
(Mr. Gillissen) is also busy for the N.R.C. (No idea of what that is).
We remain at 3,400 meters. All around us as far as I can see a great white snowfield of clouds. The cook cleans up the kitchen.
We have in the meantime already attacked the fresh fruit in the galley and have also put a dent in Rasche's "Haagse Hopjes". The faster we
finish all these sweets the better - less dead weight! At 8:00 we are flying over Reims. Weather remains unchanged. The flight engineer has prepared
himself a bed and is asleep. No doubt the poor fellow is dead tired from all the last minute preparations the last few days. Sleep well. If we get
hungry we will give you a call.
It's now 8:45 PM and we pass Dijon and are approaching Switzerland. Moll has just informed us that we are climbing to 4,000 meters to get over the Alps.
We will try to reach Rome in one leg - unless we are forced to land in Milan to refuel. We can see some of the mountain tops ahead of us sticking their
dark noses above the white clouds. Speed remains at 330 KPH. Excellent! We are getting nearer and nearer to the mountains. I can not describe the
beauty. A row of peaks straight ahead. They stick out far above the clouds below us. Where will we find a pass to go between these peaks! We are now
down to 3,500 meters again - and are being served tea and beschuit (a delicious Dutch cracker) with cheese. 3,600 meters. The Douglas finds some
rough air. Hola! It appears we are dancing closer to the mountains. To our right appears the Mont Blanc (Europe's highest peak). In the cockpit every
one is paying sharp attention. The door is open and Moll and Parmentier are studying the charts intently.
How will we cross the Alps - where? Is it possible that we are now 2,000 meters above the cloud layer below us? Now 4,000 meters
and the mountains are still nearer. At 9:10 I can't describe the beauty. If I could only paint the view I am seeing now. Easy Douglas we will get there.
4,200 meters, my nose is glued to the window. One more jump and we are over the mountains. Far below us we can from time to time see valleys with small
villages. Those people just cannot believe that now 4,600 meters (15,000 feet) above them a group of Hollanders are on their way. Far below us a glacier.
Straight ahead the mountains disappear. We are descending.
We are entering Italy. A beautiful view of the Italian lakes. Everywhere we see small villages surrounded by tilled land. It looks like a puzzle. Yes,
we are going to fly non-stop to Rome! Is it possible to believe that in such a few hours I have come this far? Below us the clouds start to form again.
Only to our right do I see signs of land from time to time. 10:10 - it is getting lighter again. How beautiful is this Italian countryside under us. To our right the Apennine mountains. They must have
had little rain as the rivers appear to be low. We receive word that we should be in Rome in one hour and fifteen minutes. Average speed since
our departure is 320 KPH - roughly 200 MPH. At 10:30 we are at 3,600 meters thus high above the terrain below us. It is getting warmer in the cabin.
Coats have been removed and are in the nets overhead. At 11:10 we are at 2,000 meters.
In Rome we fill up and have 20 minutes to eat some spaghetti and wash it down with a bottle of Chianti - we must keep up
our courage! I am closing this part in order to get it in the mail here in Rome. We are again well on our way. We departed Rome at noon and off the
right wing we can see the Isle of Capri and to my left is the Italian countryside. Old, small gray villages, which look as toys from this altitude.
Still the Apennine Mountains which we hug at 2,000 meters. Bare mountains with only some sign of tilling. We set our course for Athens which should
take us about 3 1/2 hours.
We have a slight head wind and climb to 3,000 meters where the winds are more favourable. There! I see Mt. Vesuvius. The Old Smoker.
Let me go back a minute and give you some more information about our arrival in Rome. Everything was well organized. The fuel trucks stood ready and we
even had ready made luncheons packed for each one of us. A KLM employee had preceded us to Rome to make sure every detail had been taken care of in
advance. And there were plenty of photographers, well wishers and autograph hounds. Just before noon we received the word to board and shortly
thereafter we were airborne again this time over the older parts of the city
In the vicinity of Naples we decide to open the luncheons which were given to us in Rome. We are at 2,000 meters and the three passengers are having a
friendly lunch with the Radio Operator and the Flight Engineer: cold chicken, smoked eel, hard boiled eggs and to make it easy to swallow - some
more Chianti. At least the passengers enjoyed the Chianti - not so the crew. It could not have been finer. And then the Captain and the First Officer
joined us one at a time while we continued on our way to Athens.
It's now 1:30 PM and we see the Adriatic and there is Brindisi, the well known Italian military airdrome. And now we see the outline of the coast of
Albania. We are now over the Adriatic at 2,800 meters. No doubt below us some captain of a cargo ship looking up will wonder where the big bird high
up in the sky is heading. Well, Old Man, we are heading for distant lands.
At 2:30 PM we continue to press forward. We are over Greece. Bare mountains - highly populated. But this has no effect on us. In an other hour we will be
landing in Athens, where our "Doug" will be able to quench its thirst. We too have gotten thirsty and the Cognac Flask I brought along is shared with
my two fellow passengers. We have just received news that our fellow Dutchman -the "Panderjager" - is somewhere in the South of Yugoslavia.
Has he had mechanical problems? He should be ahead of us. He took of ahead of us and was going to fly non-stop to Athens. Well, we will find out more
about that when we get to Athens. No doubt other competitors have landed there ahead of us in the meantime.
This part of our story goes from Athens via the Middle East, Pakistan to India.
Athens - Allahabad
Saturdayafternoon October 20th at 16:02. We have just departed Aleppo and are now flying over Persia (Iran) in the direction of Bagdad where
we expect to arrive in 2 1/2 hours. We were on the ground 30 minutes in Athens to refuel, but even in such a short time we were overwhelmed by
Athenians who were questioning us in Greek - which none of us understood. We smiled and nodded - that is all we could do. The Greeks are great,
but thirty minutes is more than enough!
Anyhow at a few minutes after four we heard the by now familiar words: `OK, gentlemen - which included Fraulein Rasche - get back on board'.
We climbed in, waving at the crowd.
Just at sunset we got our first glance of the Turkish Coast, and from 6:00 PM we started flying in the dark. Above us a
nearly full moon bathed our Douglas now flying at 3,000 meters. Far under us we could see the lights of various small islands as they appeared
to slide to the rear. And now it really started to dawn on us what an extraordinary experience we were undertaking.
In the meantime the Flight Engineer had changed three of the passenger seats into "beds" and soon we were asleep as the Douglas proceeded
over Turkish terrain.
What an experience. Far from home at 3,000 meters three passengers are enjoying a deep rest in a marvel of modern technology. As can be expected my
eyes open every so often as we hit air pockets, but soon we settle down again with the drumming of the engines. Come on boy, let the airplane do its
thing - you deserve a rest after a day filled with so much emotion.
I must have slept quite some time, but low voices wake me. It is the Radio Operator who has just received a message that the Mollisons (in a Comet)
arrived in Bagdad at 7:45 PM. Thus they arrived there safely in spite of some earlier set back. After a four hour flight we see the lights of Aleppo.
In spite of his many trips to the Far East, Parmentier has never been here. So now, especially at night he will have to pay extra attention. Luckily
there are enough light signals so that after a few turns we land safely on Syrian Soil.
Again the same Game. French officials demonstrating their importance. A throng of curious onlookers, gesticulating fellows on the fuel truck - and
we then let them drag us to a tent which has been set up for the occasion. Here they shower us with coffee and sandwiches but fellows, we need to get
on our way again. We are not participants in this World Race for our pleasure - we have a time table which we must obey. In 30 minutes we again
climb aboard the "Uiver" and are soon over the heads of the French and Syrians on our way to Bagdad.
No rest for the weary. We must go on. For us passengers we are heading into the unknown. Although Fraulein Rasche is a well known pilot she has
already gone aft two times looking rather pale. For a woman such a trip must be extremely tiring.
But, we can't pay attention to that. We must continue to press towards our final destination: Melbourne. Another sign of the lack of popularity of the
Mollisons (why?) was seen in Aleppo. An Englishman approached me and placed his hands on my shoulder asking if we had heard anything about the Mollisons.
When I responded that we had heard that they had already landed in Bagdad he answered: " I'm very glad they did not land here. Nobody likes them".
(However, again, no reason is given for this feeling).
We have just received news that the Comet flown by Scott and Campbell landed in Bagdad at 8:55 PM. There must be quite an activity there - the first
official control point for the racers. We expect to arrive in Bagdad in half an hour or 11:50 PM. This will be mailed from Bagdad and I will tell you
more about the flight later.
It's now 6:00 PM local Local and after flying all day it is time for me to again set down my impressions. Although it was late in the night when we landed in
Bagdad there were many people at the airport. We were greeted enthusiastically when we alit from the plane, and in a troupe we were ushered to a restaurant.
The service was very good. Everyone did their best to make our stay here as easy as possible. We heard we were the third plane to land in Bagdad. The Mollisons
and Scott & Campbell are ahead of us. The Dutch "Panderjager' was expected to land within the next thirty minutes.
Can you imagine how exiting this all is?
The crew and passengers experience everything as one. After 45 minutes all was in order and we took off again at 3:00 AM under loud cheers from those
remaining on the ground. Soon we are at 4,800 meters again and crawl under coats in order to keep warm, as it is devilish cold outside. When I woke up
the sun was already shining and we were following the Persian Coast. What a dreary and abandoned country side. Rocky with sand outcroppings. But
naturally interesting for some one who has never experienced this from the air. Is there any better way to see the World than from the air?
Click on the picture to enlarge
Impossible. At 9:00 we see Jask (Persia), just some rocky buildings and tents - all on a hot sandy background. Just before landing
we get into shorts so that we will not be stifled by the heat.
Here in Jask there is only one young Dutch couple who are here to greet us. The rest are all Persian - again all the yelling, screaming and waving of
arms as they set to refuel our tanks.
"Regretfully - again - we are not allowed to take pictures. Thus the efforts of these guys can not be shown in a picture. In the meantime we sought
shade in a little stone building where someone had arranged refreshments. At 9:15 AM the motors are already turning.
Click on the picture to enlarge
Let's go! Now straight for Karachi in British India (today Pakistan). We keep climbing for altitude as there we can develop greater speed.
In Jask we were also informed that the "Pandenjager" was yapping at our heels so that we can not lose a second. A five hour
flight ahead of us. Basically we keep following the coastline which appears endless without any discernible geographical features.
During this stretch I sat in the co-pilot's seat for half our, while the captain explained the various instruments. I even flew the airplane
for a few minutes. At even the slightest pressure this colossal plane reacted as if it were a small sport flyer. On our return from Melbourne
I will try to get some more "Airtime".
At 2:45 PM we can already see Karachi. We were on the ground for 30 minutes. Enough time for the plane to be serviced and for us to eat and drink
something. Everything was in perfect order. Here we heard that the Mollisons had damaged their undercarriage when they landed here earlier in the day.
Well, they decided to proceed but returned 20 minutes later. The latest reports are that they will not be able to get off the ground until the early
morning hours. They thus missed a great chance at winning.
So, the only people who are ahead of us are the team of Scott and Campbell in their Comet who apparently had already landed in
Allahabad at 3:00 PM. The earliest we will get there will be at 8:30 tonight, so that they have a 5 1/2 hour lead. We have already heard on the radio
that we have stretched our lead over the "Panderjager" to one hour. Great! On the other hand this means nothing. We do not carry fuel tanks
in our belly and must thus make more "pit stops". But .... we are not discouraged. The most difficult part of the journey still lies ahead
and perhaps we will still catch Scott and For the life of me I just can't bring myself to think that we were in England yesterday morning and we are
now in Karachi! Incredible. If all goes well we will be in Batavia (today Djakarta) tomorrow.
Well, let's not count the chickens before they hatch. Dinner is being served. It is dark. The chicken thighs will taste well at 4,500 meters.
Our last part of the trip to Batavia. As always, a good story needs to end somewhere but we hope you liked it.
Allahabad - Batavia
Sunday morning October 21st. "It is Monday morning 8:15 local time India at 3,500 meters. We are flying between Rangoon and Alorstar
over the Indian Ocean. We have a beautiful view, below us the sea is blue dotted with hundreds of island and volcanic outcroppings.
Last night we were very well received in Allahabad. In the tent which had been set up for the occasion a table was set for a "Quick Dinner"
very well served by Indians in colorful headgear. We had planned to take a moment to shave but there was no time or place as we were constantly
surrounded by strangers staring and asking millions of questions. We did meet two young Dutch fellows who had made a twenty four hour tram trip to
see us land and greet us.
We heard that the "Panderjager" was expected within the hour whereas the next airplane - that flown by Turner has
just passed Karachi. So forward, no time to waste. At 8:45 PM we were again airborne for destination Calcutta.
It was 9:45 PM when we heard on the radio that the "Panderjager" was having difficulties locating Allahabad. They kept trying to get radio
bearings but were not being successful. What anxious moments. Those fellows high up in the air like us and lost. A little later we picked up another
radio message from Allahabad which said "Dutch plane crashed" without further details. You can imagine how we felt at that moment and how
we felt about our fellow Dutchmen.. What happened to the crew? Were they saved?
When we arrived in Calcutta at 10:45 we heard that the "Panderjager" had damaged its landing gear but that the crew was unharmed. This airport
in Calcutta is very small and difficult to find and difficult to land. The captain tells us to put on our safety belts. Then we made our touchdown - a
hard bounce then heavy breaking and we were stopped in frontof the restaurant. Here at the airport a large Dutch group had gathered which received us
loudly and with prolonged shouting. Funny, I met a certain Mr. Calcoen who years ago worked for me at the bank. People loaded our arms with gifts
including a homemade krentebrood (raisin bread) which we are now enjoying. A lady told me that she had just arrived from Holland in Calcutta 26 days
by sea! And here we are - yesterday morning we were still in England. After our departure from Calcutta at 11:15 PM our beds were prepared and
while the three passengers slept we flew high across the Bay of Bengal.
I woke from a deep sleep as we were warned to put on our belts again - why? We are approaching Rangoon and will be landing soon. It was already 4:30 AM!
This airport is also very small and it is a truly difficult job to land such a big machine in the middle of the night. Well, everything went well and
within a few minutes we are on the ground enjoying a warm cup of coffee. Again, every one went out of their way for us but then rush, we have to get going.
We still have a long way to go to our destination. At exactly 5:00 AM we were airborne.
It's 9:00 AM, we should arrive in Alorstar within the hour. We are now flying over Malaysia. Nothing but tropical rainforest with only an occasional hut or
group of huts. Fantastic how these rivers appear as snakes winding their way down the hills. We expect to land in ten minutes. Everywhere we look we see rice
paddies. This trip is becoming very interesting and educational. We are descending.
At 11:10 AM we're back in the air. But our hearts were in our throats for a moment. The airfield was extremely wet and when we
landed water shot up all around us. But the take off fully loaded on a wet grass runway would be more difficult The captain looked for the driest part
and then gunned the engines. Slowly the plane picked up speed but we kept rolling through the puddles - every one of us was tense. But the bumps get
less as the wings catch the air and then we are away - turn sharply as our right wing skims a little house which sits next to a rice paddy at the end
of the runway.
Fifteen minutes later we are again at 4,000 meters. In Alorstar I was able to take some movies. A huge crowd of colorfully dressed people swarmed around
us - a fine shot for the camera.
It's now 2:50 PM and we have just departed Singapore. What a great reception we had there. Loud shouting as the door opened and we stepped out of the plane.
A large Dutch colony was there to greet us too. Every where we go the people are deeply following this race and to some extent they are more nervous than
we are (no doubt maybe we are very calm and don't realize what is happening!). We are all tense as we approach the last legs of the race. As is always the case
"It is the last straw that broke the camel's back". Tonight we will have to cross the Timor Sea and we have heard that weather there can be spooky.
Parmentier informs us that we should reach Batavia at 5:30 PM and it is expected that we may encounter some bad weather along the way. Is it possible that we
will soon be seeing the coast of the island of Sumatra ? On the third day since our departure from Mildenhall? As I look out of the window I see a small fleet
of fishing boats. No doubt they are waiving at us. 'What a view from 4,000 meters. I am finishing this segment and will post it from Batavia.
If all goes well we should be in Melbourne tomorrow night! Is this possible? Well let's wait and see what the future has in store for us. We better clean
up the cabin a bit before we land.
Tuesday morning 7:00 AM
It is going to be very difficult to put into writing everything which we experienced since leaving Singapore yesterday morning. These are so many and so different
that I probably will overlook some events. Well let's have a look.
It started by flying over the coast of Sumatra. Nothing but tropical rain forests. The trees were packed closely together and it became apparent that we were lucky
as only from the air can you really get a good idea of the extent of these forests. Sometimes the clouds were under us, then we were skirting them, next they were
above us. All of this in the most menacing manner. Then suddenly we would disappear into a heavy cloud formation only to re-appear in a few minutes in beautiful
blue sky. To the right huge dark grey thunderheads, but luckily we pass them by.
Shortly before seeing the island of Java we came across the so called 1,000 islands. There they lie like oysters in a blue-green ocean. Sometimes a fishing boat dots
the sea. Some of the "islands" are actually under water which gives them the green color.
Java in sight at 5:00 PM and it's not surprising that my mind goes back two days when we were still in Europe. But we do not have much time to reminisce. First Tandjong Priok
and now Batavia. People are jammed on the airport. All are waving: hands, hats, flags! We make the turn to land at the airport of Tjillitan - and there must be thousands awaiting
our arrival. Along the road cars standing still. One more turn to final and our wheels touch down.
What a welcome! The shouting and screaming does not stop. We were dragged out of the plane and were carried to a radio where each one of us had to say a few words. You could not
move as everyone was pushing. What progress. Can you imagine standing in India (Indonesia) knowing that your voice is being heard in Holland at the same moment. Then more pictures
and some refreshments. Personally I was also well received by Mr. Barda. He will prepare some side trips for us in Java and Bali on our return trip. Nice fellow.
Hurry, we've just started our last stretch towards Melbourne. Unfortunately also this diary of the famous PH-AJU "Uiver" comes to an end. We from the KLM VA team,
hope you enjoyed it.
Batavia - Melbourne
In the meantime our tanks have been replenished and at 4:45 PM the order is given to board, followed by thousands of well wishers. "Just after take-off we received a
telegram from Fokker stating that he heard our voices over the radio. He wished us continued success. That was quick work - our broadcast, his reply to us in the air.
"And now starts the night flight over our Indian islands, eventually leading us to Darwin in Australia. We can now say it "Australia!". Our first stop will be Rembang
on the island of Lombok. Parmentier set the plane down beautifully with the help of a full moon. There are 50 Hollanders on this island and each of them was there to greet
us together with the natives. How happy our countrymen were to see us - and they had been following our progress for three days. Here we were on a small island, bathed
in the light of the full moon.. surrounded by a group of fellow Dutchmen while our trusty plane was being provisioned. The natives stood in awe at the size of this
enormous plane. "Thirty minutes later we were up in the air again racing for Koepang on the island of Timor, before the big jump to Australia. This leg will be about
four hours. Most of the time we will be flying over water, with land in the distance. "We arrived on Timor at 2:30 AM and again there was a large welcome from the
Some had been at the airfield since noon awaiting our arrival, always listening over radios for the latest news. You should have seen how happy they
were when we gave them today's newspaper from Batavia - normally they catch up with the news nine days later when the boat comes in. The Dutchmen send us on our way over
the dangerous Timor sea with destination Darwin. From 3:15 AM to 6:15 AM we flew towards Darwin over the dangerous Timor sea, where sharks abound. We had considerable
headwind and high up in the sky we danced through air pockets, sometimes in clouds, sometimes in the moonlight heading for Australia. "I was awake a long time. I saw the
clouds skip by my window and when the moon broke through it was a beautiful scene. Far below us the sea looked calm from 2,500 meters. I shall never forget this
impression. And the idea that high in the sky we were distancing us from Holland at a speed in excess of 280 KPH. At the same time you in Holland are probably just
climbing into your beds dreaming of distant adventurers. (Adventurers in your eyes - but just passengers!). "At 6:00 AM we saw the Australian coast for the first time.
We have made it!
Twenty minutes later we are on the ground at Port Darwin.
Pressing heat. And what a sad and deserted place. In a small tent we were offered tea and bread with "dug" (never heard that expression).
Then thirty minutes later fully loaded back into the sky. "We heard that Scott & Campbell arrived during the night with only one
engine - one having failed over the dreaded Timor sea. What an experience for those fellows. Although they made quick repairs the
failed engine was stil low on oil pressure but they decided to press on.
They were very scared that we might still catch them. No one could give us any information on any of the other contestants. "9:00 AM for the last two hours we have been
flying over the deserted Northern Territory. Flat with only an occasional tree or vegetation. No houses nor signs of life. Our immediate destination is Cloncurry. We continue to dodge clouds and Parmentier opts to hug the coast line to ease navigation. "11:30 - I am back in my seat after having spent over an hour in the cockpit in the captain's seat while Moll was flying. What a sight. Can you imagine sitting in
the nose of a huge speeding bullet at 4,500 meters dashing in and out of huge clouds.
As you exit you see land far below you and a
blue sky up above - marvelous. "It was not an easy stretch for the navigator. Just flat land with no recognizable geographic features.
Also difficult to measure our drift. No radio contact either.
But we arrived in Cloncurry as predicted at 12:30 PM. Naturally no
Hollander in this God forsaken place, but the enthusiasm for us was just as great. We did hear that Scott & Campbell had landed safely
in Melbourne so that they have won the first place in the speed category. "After a rousing three cheers for Scott & Campbell some one
yelled "And what about the Dutchmen" - and then we were treated with the same cheers. Nice guys. "In the meantime we have had to reset
our watches again so that the time diference with Holland is now eight hours. It is 4:00 PM and we are on the way to our last
interrnediate stop: Charlevile. And then Melbourne. I can not believe it. This means that we will arrive in Melbourne just after
midnight. But we will do it. "The captain and co-pilot have switched over to oxygen as we are now at 5,000 meters trying to avoid
the ever growing clouds and storms.
The first officer explains that if we were to fly lower we would bounce a lot and would have to slow down. In addition it would make the navigation more difficult.
We do not see any land. "But, at 7:00 PM we are over Charleville. It is still light, and as we make our final approach a red flare arcs the air; engines are gunned
and we start to circle the field again. We circle the field a couple of times and Parmentier is angry at this delay. Finally some barrels with gasoline are lit
and a green flare is shot up. We land in the indicated direction and end up in a muddy pit. We need help to get out. The explanation for the delay in the air is
that they were not ready for us altbough they knew already 1 1/2 hours ago when we were expected. Everythiflg here is badly organized - I would grade it below "0".
"We are happy to be on our way again in about 45 minutes, one of the longest delays. It is 8:30 and we are high in the sky. The last leg bas begun and we expect to
arrive Melbourne at 12:30 AM. Let us get ready and pack up our things.