KLM Celebrates 100 Years of Flying—as KLM

The Dutch airline set a record with the DC-2 and now flies the latest Boeing and Airbus designs.

Boeing 787 Dreamliner landing
One of the newer aircraft in the KLM fleet, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, lands at Schiphol airport.KLM

The national flag carrier for the Netherlands, KLM, has flown that flag now for 100 years, not only with a royal blessing, but also a number of other firsts and records to its credit.

KLM celebrates 100 years of flying under the same business name, "Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij voor Nederland en Koloniën," or Royal Dutch Airlines for the Netherlands and Colonies. The Dutch airline launched flights in May 1920 with a leased De Havilland DH 16, then began again in April 1921 with its own Fokker F-IIs and F-IIIs.

crowd in front of a Douglas DC-2 airplane
The Douglas DC-2 was an early flagship for KLM in the 1930s.KLM

The company set a record in 1934 with the Douglas DC-2—Fokker held the reassembly designation for Douglas aircraft based on the friendship between Tony Fokker and Donald Douglas, so the tie with the Netherlands for Douglas was strong. The airline's flagship DC-2 Uiver (which means "stork" in Dutch) joined the MacRobertson Air Race, a contest flight between London, England, and Melbourne, Australia, in October 1934, and it took first place in the restricted category—those aircraft carrying passengers and cargo—and second overall. This win was particularly sweet, as Uiver had become lost in a thunderstorm off the coast, and landed on a muddy racecourse near Albury, NSW.

KLM now flies the latest Boeing, Embraer, and Airbus designs. The company is marking the anniversary with a series of celebrations, and in a uniquely Dutch manner: It has created a Delftware miniature house to commemorate the occasion. A video pitting KLM's DC-2 days against those on board today's Boeing 787 Dreamliner can be found here.