Albert Plesman (1889-1953) Dutch aviation pioneer

"Albert Plesman: The Boss... the Possessed... the Zealot."

Officer Dr. Albert Plesman is considered one of the most important Dutch pioneers in aviation history. Plesman got his officer's education at the Royal Military Academy (in Dutch Koninklijke Militaire Academy, or KMA) in Breda. He entered the military aviation section of the Dutch army in 1915, located in Soest, a village in near Utrecht.

Plesman received his full military license in 1918, certifying him to fly the army's airplanes. He had other things on his mind nevertheless.

The officer was more a manager than a pilot. In 1919 he organized the Eerste Luchtverkeer Tentoonstelling (ELTA, the First Air Traffic Exhibit) in Amsterdam. Plesman's move would eventually mark the founding of the KLM (Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij, Royal Dutch Aviation Company). The KLM would grow into the largest Dutch aviation company, besides Fokker and Martinair, and even one of the world's largest.

Plesman became an administrator at the start of the company, but made some career moves and was eventually appointed General Manager. After the war, Albert Plesman became President-Director of the Board, thus holding the most powerful office in the company. Under his wings, the KLM underwent its largest growth into one of the largest aviation companies on the globe.

In 1947, the Delft Academy of Technology (now University of Technology) did credit to Plesman's achievements through an honarary doctorate. After his death (in 1953) he was also honoured by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), awarding Plesman a gold Edward Warner medal for his exceptional merits in the development of civil aviation.

(The quote at the top is credited to his biographer Adriaan Viruly)

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