Willem Hendrik Schukking, pioneer
Tuesday July 28 of the year 1908 second lieutenant of
the Royal Dutch Engineering Corps Willem Hendrik
Schukking made the first flights in the Netherlands with
an apparatus heavier than air. The location of the
flights was De Stompert, a hill in the neighbourhood of
Soesterberg in the middle of the country. Schukking
first used the Chanute method of flight, hanging under
the glider. The longest distance covered was about 15
meters. After that he used the Wright method, lying in
the glider, which was lifted by two soldiers at the end
of the wings. As stated in an article in the Orgaan
van de NVvL in September 1908, the soldiers when
running down the hill did not notice the weight of the
plane any longer. Later Schukking made one or more
flights using a small carriage on rails down the hill.
Schukking concluded that the hill was not steep enough
for longer flights, the wind was too variable and that
the plane did not meet the necessary standards. Wilbur
Wright agreed with these conclusions in a letter to
Hendrik Schukking was one of the first members of the
Nederlandsche Vereeniging voor Luchtvaart, the
predecessor of the present Royal Netherlands
Aeronautical Association (KNVvL).
Schukking was passenger on the second balloon ride of
the balloon Rotterdam, which was donated to the new
organization NVvL. In this article about the flight he
gave an enthusiastic account of the flight above the
Schukking was the author of an article in the
Military Spectator about the possible use of the
flying machine for military purposes. This article was
published shortly before an official commission by the
Dutch Defence Ministry published its report on the
future of aviation in the army. In this report it was
advised to pay attention to the balloon, the dirigible
balloon and also the flying machine. The future would
make clear which technique would be the best. But in the
parliament it was decided that the organization to be
formed should only pay attention to the airplane, the
same which was reached by Schukking on the base of his
thorough studies of aviation in Europe, especially in
France and other countries. In July 1913 the
Proefafdeling (test organization) was formed in the
army. Now it is considered to be the birthday of the
Royal Netherlands Air Force.
Schukking continued his career within the Dutch
Engineering Corps, which he left after the second world
war in the rank of colonel. Apart from this he was a
founding member of the Menno van Coehoorn Foundation,
named after the famous seventeen century architect
of many fortifications in the low countries.
Schukking is the co-author of many books about
fortifications and military history. His main work is
the preparation of the writing of Simon Stevin, the
famous 17th century engineer from Belgian
origin on military subjects, later on published as
volume IV of the Principal Works of Simon Stevin, a
publication of Sciences in the Netherlands.
Willem Hendrik Schukking
died in 1967.
28 in 2009 the grandchildren of Willem Hendrik Schukking
unveiled, at De Stomperd, a monument in memory of the
first flight in the Netherlands. This moment of
commemoration was organized by the Dutch Stichting
Zweefvliegarchief. ISBN 978-90-813148
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Photo model Wright Glider,
made by Willem Jansen Groesbeek.