By: Tyler McDowell
After operating for 98 years, KLM has finally parted ways with Dutch aviation manufacturer Fokker as they retired the final Fokker F-70 aircraft on October 28th 2017, the company that supplied KLM’s regional subsidiaries and the fleet from 1919 until this final flight in 2017 went bankrupt in 1996 leaving KLM no choice but to seek replacement aircraft from Embraer, settling with E-175/E-195 to replace the Fokker F-50, F-70 & F-100 fleet. Whilst all the final Fokker F-70 planes are destined to new owners in Africa. The only Fokker jets remaining in Holland wearing KLM colours are the two Fokker F-100, PH-OFA at the Lelystad Aviodrome and PH-OFE on the Amsterdam Airport Viewing Terrace.
I flew out on PH-BGP, a Boeing 737-700(WL) and coincidentally the first KLM plane I ever flew on and that was due to a planned Fokker flight being cancelled due to weather problems, from London Heathrow to Amsterdam. After a very uneventful flight, I got to Amsterdam and spent a good 2 hours spotting before going into the city for the afternoon. I then return to Amsterdam Schipol to go airside and go on the final Fokker 70.
The final flight was to be operated by PH-KZU which sported the “Farewell Fokker” livery with the man himself, Anthony Fokker, on the tail of his companies final creation. The KL1079 flight was a dedicated one-off flight. The plane was decorated with party decorations in the forward galley and the crew consisted of 6 special pilots & stewardesses. The Chief Pilot for the KLM Fokker fleet, the Captain on his final flight before retiring, the stewardesses were on the flight for the following reasons: The Most Senior Flight Attendant on the F-70 fleet, a Flight Attendant from the first KLM F-70 flight and the last Stewardess trained on the Fokker 70 fleet. Quite the fitting mix!
The plane was parked on a remote stand and we had a quick bus ride from the Schipol D6 gates. We got met by camera crews that were documenting the event. The crew noticed my t-shirt, a white shirt I printed a dedicated Fokker 70 montage for the event; the design consisted of images from my six Fokker F-70 flights from 2016 and 2017. I managed to get signatures from all 6 crew members throughout my flight, they all seemed to like what I put together, despite it not being a professional job.
The captain came out of the flight deck after we all boarded and explained what was happening as some of the passengers were flying thinking it was a normal flight, the other half (including me) knew what was going on!
We got started and began to roll out to the departure runway, a few minutes later than planned due to our paparazzi and as we taxied we had a group of vehicles with the photographers doing their photography and filming out the back of the Airport minibuses. I noticed a load of airport vehicles parked up and their occupants taking pictures of us as we taxied past, just goes to show how much Fokker and KLM’s history meant to the people working there!
We departed from Amsterdam climbing out through some thick and low clouds before levelling out and cruising towards a beautiful setting sun. However, we did encounter some turbulence and that shook up the ride a bit. Passengers remarked it was some last flight fun, however, some passengers definitely disagreed with it.
Service on this plane was the same as a normal flight except for the Captain coming to speak to the passengers and the captain giving a less formal update on weather in London as we were halfway into the flight. The egg wrap was not very nice and I personally find it the only let down to my flights on KLM. However a second “bar service” was made and I couldn’t find a better way to toast the last flight of this Dutch Classic on this Dutch Airline than to drink a traditional Dutch Beer from Heineken!
As we cruised along the sunset really gave a beautiful golden glow reflecting off the wing of the F-70.
We came in over East & Central London on the airports Northern Runway. Touching down, I suddenly realised the reality that I will never get another chance of flying a Fokker 70 again in Europe and once I get off this plane, it’s all over. But the memories and six flights I did I am very pleased with and I enjoyed every single one and glad I jumped at all the chances I had! My next Fokker F-70 or my first Fokker F-100 flight will have to wait for me to visit Australia or the Caribbean!
I wasn’t rushing to get off and I took the time to get my last signatures on my shirt as well as to get some final cabin and flight deck pictures before I got off PH-KZU. KLM’s celebration was a great and fitting end to a wonderful era, and they ensured the same VIP experience on the returning journey.
Special thanks to Tyler McDowell for his report. All images by the author.