After WWII, Holland 1947-1953

Holland 1947-1953

My first Captain route on the DC-4
a trip to Bangkok

November, 1951

This was a cargo flight eastbound to Bangkok. What I didn’t know was, that the return flight was an animal flight.

DC 4 300

When we showed up at the airport we found the aircraft was loaded with 5000 rhesus monkeys. These monkeys were destined for New York to be used for medical research. In addition there was a large python, a giant whooping crane and two dogs.

The monkey cages were lined along each side of the cabin with room to walk through to the cockpit. When we entered by the rear door, all the monkeys were chattering, and when they saw us suddenly they were all silent, and they turned their backs to us and looked at us over their shoulders. I thought that was very strange, yet funny. This occurred any time we walked through the cabin. There was an animal handler with us, and he slept in the crew bunk during night stops. At our stops we had ground power hooked up overnight, and the cabin ventilation fans running, as the smell of the monkeys was overpowering.

By the time we reached Amsterdam we smelled really bad. After clearing customs a KLM representative led us to some showers in the terminal and brought us our suitcases. We were given a bag in which to dump our uniforms, underwear, shirts and sox, and we put on whatever we had in our suitcases. Our clothes were fumigated and dry cleaned, then we picked them up later.

Another crew took our mini zoo to New York.

Photo : Lars den Hartigh from the blog ‘Meanwhile at KLM