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Dutch aviation pioneers took off for a flight in 1910

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

HEERENVEEN /EDE – Two Dutch towns recalled a century of aviation history recently. The central Dutch city of Ede, which already had an airstrip in 1910, beat out the much-publicized July 31, 1910 air show by two days when Dutch East Indies-born student pilot Johan Hilgers took off for another airfield. Pushed by car importer Verwey & Lugard, which owned both airfields, Hilgers landed at Soesterberg to turn his plane, a Blériot XI, for a return trip to Ede. The car importer hoped that being first in the air would be good publicity for his business. Flyer Clément van Maasdijk, who had anticipated being first, nevertheless could console himself with the knowledge that his show had attracted huge crowds; the estimates were put at 100,000 onlookers, while rival Hilgers had few people show for the hastily organized event. Van Maasdijk died when his plane crashed on August 27, 1910. Hilgers left for the Dutch East Indies where he had a successful career in aviation. He died, however, in a concentration camp in 1945, a prisoner of the Emperor of Japan. Both 1910 events are being remembered in their respective towns with a museum exhibit.