The World Today

The World Today
Earth in 2013

Saturday, September 4, 2010


In 1911, the VOC saw a new potential source of expansion. The aeroplane (or airplane) was a new invention, less than a decade old. It originated in the United States, though American engineers competed with Europeans to develop the first heavier-than-air ship. In the United Provinces, Willem and Georg Fokker established a small shop to produce aircraft in 1907. Fokker Aircraft was a marginal success, barely keeping ahead of their debts as they sought out customers. They entered a partnership with the VOC in 1911, where Fokker Aircraft was purchased and renamed VOC Air, with the brothers left in charge. With the VOC’s capital and the Fokker brother’s engineering, the venture was to meet with success.

The VOC first used and sold aircraft as fast messengers in the years before radio communication (soon adopted into VOC Communication) became reliable. For customers who were willing to pay premium prices, VOC Air offered fast delivery of air mail between the Provinces. After the first year of the Great War, the Dutch governments soon were looking for aircraft of their own. VOC Air was but one of the companies they contracted, and did not even receive the largest contract. The VOC produced hundreds of scouting and recon aircraft for the Commonwealth throughout the war.

After the Great War, consumer interest in air travel came to the Company’s attention. The first VOC airliner was design in 1920, a fourteen seat, four engine, biplane. VOC Air started its first airline route in 1922. It was not in the United Provinces or Brazil, where railroad was still the preferred choice of motion, but between Transvaal and Johannestaaten. Air traffic between the distant towns of the five Boer Republics comprised the bulk of the VOC Air’s income for the 1920s, reaching out to towns too important to be isolated, but too small to justify the expensive of their own railroad line. In 1934, the VOC’s first flying boat began to carry passengers between the United Provinces, Brazil and the Boer Republics, with stop-overs between the U.P. and Brazil in the Azores, and between the Boer Republics and the two others in Cape Verde (though each had to refuel at more than just this one stop). Both islands were home to VOC-owned hotels where passengers were put up for the night.

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