News Articles

Floating KLM Jumbo dwarfs canal houses in Amsterdam

Plane barged to air museum

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

AMSTERDAM – Deliveries by canal barges have very old currency in The Netherlands. Hauling a Jumbo jet this way however could be called a study in contrasts and a solution of a last resort. Unable to have the plane land at Lelystad’s airport, the Aviodrome museum took its newest addition home via waterways. KLM and museum staff joined an army of specialists to transport the 70-metres long surplus KLM Boeing 747 by barge to the site in the Flevoland reclamation. The plane’s wings arrived at the ‘polder’ location in a separate shipment.

The days-long operation of getting the 180 tons fuselage to Lelystad capped weeks of precision planning. To better manoeuvre the plane through some of the narrow canals of Amsterdam, the 747’s wings were detached. From the disassembly stage at Schiphol, the plane was trucked to a nearby canal where it was lowered onto a series of connected barges. Tugboats sailed the combination to and through Amsterdam en route to the IJsselmeer for its final dockside destination in the port town of Harderwijk. From there, the last leg of the journey of the ‘Louis Blériot’ went overland.

The Boeing 747 was the last one of the first generation of the model to be decommissioned by KLM. The airline sold the ‘Louis Blériot’ to the Aviodrome museum for the nominal one euro. The museum in Lelystad is the successor of the well-known Aviodome at Schiphol Airport, which shut down in 2003 and as well was moved to Lelystad. The ‘Blériot’, named after the first pilot who crossed the Channel in 1909, will be open to the public this Spring.