Gliding: History and Movies

Gliding pioneers in the Netherlands 1908 – 1930.

On Tuesday the 28th of July in the year 1908 Willem Hendrik Schukking, second lieutenant of the Royal Dutch Engineering Corps, made the first flights in the Netherlands with an apparatus heavier than air. The distance was only fifteen meters. These flights took place at De Stompert, a small hill in the neighbourhood of Soesterberg in the middle of the country.


In the same year a bold guy, named Carley, achieved also a flight of 15 meters. He was towed by a car at the racing track Duindigt. His glider was a French “Planeur Scrive”, a donation to the Dutch Association of Aviation. The story goes that Carley was loudly yelling to the driver of the car to slow down, so that he could touch the ground safely.


The young man Walton von Hemert , only 18 years old, made his first and, at the same time,  last attempt with his homebuilt glider. A machine that looked like a Blériot without engine. Unfortunately he was struck by a gust of wind at one and a halve meter. A broken wing put an end to this short adventure. It happened in the year 1910.


In 1922, the German Reinold Platz, design engineer at the Fokker factories made some test flights near Valkenesse at Walcheren. The glider was his own design. It was a kind of a sail wing ultralight glider, controlled by a viable weight-shift. It could be easily transported by one man on a bike. He stopped immediately after he was certain that it was really possible to fly with his invention.


In august 1922 at the airport of Vlissingen, Anthony Fokker made some jumps with his glider F.G.1. Pulled by a Cadillac with a 90 meter cable, Anthony gained altitudes of 10 and 20 meters. After he discovered that it was rather easy to fly with his glider, he went to a competition at the Wasserkuppe in Germany.


In 1924 some gliding flights at the Terlet with the  “Vlieghaas” , build by de Haas en van Dijk, did not bring in much. The same happened to Dick Heuvelink, a student aircraft construction in Haarlem. He made three attempts with his glider at the beach near Zantvoort. The first time there was no take off. The second time he glided nearly 10 meters. Due to problems with the tail balance his glider was destroyed in the third attempt. His second design was more advanced. However, he did not fly with it.


Notwithstanding all the above mentioned results of these pioneers, the first flight in the Netherlands is attributed to J.E. van Tijen. From the Duindamse Slag near Noordwijk in Noordwijk he made some successful flights on the sixth of April 1930. A monument in the dunes reminds this moment as the beginning of gliding in the Netherlands. See also the unique movie of  this flight.