10 fascinating historical facts about Schiphol

Did you know that Schiphol recently turned one hundred and six? With so many years of experience under our (seat)belt, we’ve seen and achieved a lot! To commemorate our long and rich history, we’ve compiled a list of 10 historical facts and figures about the airport. Keep on reading to learn more about our story!

  1. Schiphol actually started out as a military air base. The first ever flights landed at Schiphol in September 1916. Back then, the airport consisted of fields and four wooden hangars.

  2. Schiphol is situated in a polder (a piece of low-lying land reclaimed from the sea and protected by dykes) that used to be covered by the Haarlemmermeer Lake, which was drained between 1848 and 1852. The airport is around four metres below sea level.

  3. The first passengers flew in open aircraft. That meant they had to wear a leather jacket, a helmet, a life vest and gloves. They were also given a hot water bottle to help them stay warm when flying!

  4. The first passenger flight landed on 17 May 1920 and that marked the start of civil aviation in the Netherlands. It arrived from London. To this day, the UK is the most popular leisure destination from Schiphol.

  5. At the start of the Second World War, Schiphol fell into German hands and was used as a military air base again. It ended up being completely destroyed. After liberation in May 1945 Schiphol was rapidly rebuilt, and the first passenger plane landed in July.

  6. Queen Juliana opened the new Schiphol-Centrum on 28 April 1967. Jan Dellaert’s design for the new terminal was a world first: a central terminal encircled by piers for the handling of passengers and cargo.

  7. In 1972, the Hilton became the first hotel at Schiphol. Several famous people have spent a night at the Schiphol Hilton Hotel, including Kofi Anan, Hillary Clinton, Charles Aznavour and Audrey Hepburn!

  8. Schiphol was connected to the rail network in 1978, with a new line running between the airport and Amsterdam-Zuid. Today, Schiphol is connected by rail to various towns and cities throughout the country and even a number of international destinations.

  9. The new air traffic control tower at Schiphol-Centrum opened in 1991. At 101 metres, it’s the tallest control tower in the Netherlands and one of the tallest in the world!

  10. Schiphol celebrated its 100th birthday six years ago. Over the course of a century, the airport went from covering an area of 16.6 hectares to an area of 2800 hectares, and from handling a handful of passengers in the first years to more than 60 million in 2016!

Interested in learning more about Schiphol’s history? Check out this video:

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