Boeing 707/720 sweet memories

Boeing 707/720 Memories

Rob Hemelrijk


Rob Hemelrijk lives in Holland and is a Schiphol Airport based Ace-photographer. For many years he has graced the cargo ramps at Schiphol in search for the perfect picture. While working for a Dutch cargo company he had more than enough opportunity to catch the exotic hard working freighters, such as DC-8s, B707s and Russian turboprop planes in action.

Recently Rob has produced a fascinating book featuring his private photo collection of 30 years photography at Schiphol airport. The most ugly, beautiful or biggest aircraft that have visited Schiphol are presented in full colour in his book. The almost 160 pages thick book contains a wealth of information and features Rob spell bounding description of his love affair with the old jets and propeller aircraft that has gone forever.

I have asked Rob to feature some of his excellent Boeing 707/720 pictures from his private collection.

Some airplanes do not need a story to become fascinating, they are a fairy tale themselves! Take for instance the fascinating Equatoriana 707 fleet, during the 1980s. These aircraft were painted in a eye-catching jungle paint scheme. This was so bold and colour-full that famous painting from Dutch painters as ‘Van Gogh’ and ‘Mondriaan’ looked more like children hand paintings! I saw my first Equatoriana 707-321B (HC-BCT c/n 19265/529) on final approach at Quito Airport during December 1980, coming in low and slow and its engines screaming in order to maintain a smooth descent. The next day I was to board this machine (Flight EU022) myself for an hour’s flight from Quito to Bogota. From the departure lounge I watched the Equatoriana ground mechanics work on one of the a/c Pratt & Whitney JT3D jet engines! I was already becoming sick to my stomach and started feeling very nervous. During the flight several passengers seated in front of me started praying for no apparent reason. This did not give me any confidence for the flight ahead. Luckily nothing happened and we landed safely at Bogota Airport…I prayed ‘thank you’ lord. The following year (August 1981) I was at Miami International airport and spotted a sister-ship (HC-BFC c/n 19277/603) 707-321B in front of my camera.

Dasair 707-369C 5X-JON (c/n 20546/860) is seen here at Schiphol airport (April 1994) surrounded by the airport fire brigade and operations personnel. One of the a/c engines was being worked on by mechanics of Airvo, when during an engine test run a huge flame exploded out of the engines aft outlet. The mechanic kept his cool and later revealed to me that residue fuel was caused the flame. One of the African crew members, who happened to be standing at the forward pax door and watched the engine run, his face turned pale. One of the operations guys also standing around called the fire department and requested a fire truck. The 707 was only to run her engines under the supervision of the Schiphol fire department. A year later, during November 1995 the 707 fleet was being replaced by DC-10s series 30. In the end Dasair collapsed under the pressure of new EU rules.

During the 1980s and early 1990s Schiphol airport was a place to see DC-8 & B707 freighters in action. Numerous cargo outfits flew daily global sectors and to many African destination. Most, if not all incoming flights carried Perishables (fresh fish, fruit, vegetables and flowers) while the outbound flights carried general cargo (basically anything that can be used in Africa)

Seen here is Sudan Air 707-369C ST-AIX (c/n 20086/764) named the ‘Blue Nile’, 23 April 1987, which just arrived at Schiphol. The forward cargo door was opened and revealed its cargo of boxes with fresh food.

Global Air was a new name on the Schiphol cargo scene. With its prestigious name, this Bulgarian cargo cowboy flew a couple of charters to Schiphol during the early 1990s with a single 707-330C registered LZ-PVA (c/n 18937/451), which they bought from TNT Australia. During one of my rounds on the south cargo apron (June 1992), I noticed a Global Air mechanic performing a routine inspection on the 707. He was having trouble closing the top part of the engine cowling. What ever he tried the engine cowling sprang loose again! At a certain moment we saw the Bulgarian mechanic laying flat on his stomach on the Pratt & Whitney JT3 engine. It looked like he was having sex with it! Eventually he managed to close the cowling, but this was more luck then knowledge. In the end he managed to produce a smile and declared the 707 fit for flight. In its early days this 707 flew with Lufthansa and carried passengers around the globe. It was then converted to cargo operations and flew with German Cargo as D-ABUA. During that period it flew frequently into Schiphol and was known as the curry bomber, due to its odd colorscheme.

During July and August 1992, Aero Ground Cargo handled several freight charters for Egypt Air and Okada Air. The outbound Egypt Air flights carried day old chicks to Cairo. Then the empty 707 flew from the Egyptian capital to Paphos (Cyprus), where was loaded up with 40 tons of fresh grapes to Amsterdam. Because the Egypt Air own 707, fleet did not comply with the European noise requirements, it had to sub lease other equipment to fly to Amsterdam. The African 707-321C 9G-ADL (c/n 19369/648) (from Ghana) and Okada Air 707-355C 5N-AOQ (c/n 19664/643) (from Nigeria) where frequently used. These 707 were already outfitted with Stage 2 engine hush-kits.
On the 14th July the African 707 9G-ADL came in for a special charter, this time not carrying eggs, but instead was loaded with 27 horses which were flown to Cairo, destined for the Egyptian mounted police.
During that time the Okada 707 was engaged in several charters to Lagos and Kano in Nigeria, under its own flight number OKJ. De cargo manifest consisted mostly of 13 pallets of general cargo. This 707-355C was an old friend to Schiphol airport. In its past live, it flew with Transavia as PH-TRF and was leased for one year (1968). This crashed at Ostend airport Belgium on the 14th November 1998.

Between the period 1992 and 1999, Kuwait Airways Cargo hired the 707 fleet of TMA of Lebanon fleet and based them out of Schiphol airport. The technical inspections and maintenance were performed by TMA at Schiphol. The green coloured 707s were parked at the South ramp and during heavy maintenance the scene reminded me of the Middle-East ramps of Sharjah. On the 19th April 1995 we witnessed a complete engine change on the 707-320C OD-AGY (c/n 19105/499). A heavy duty crane was hired in to lift up the engine. All the work was done out in the open air and strange looking men, in long trench coats were seen hard at work..!