BID TO SAVE HISTORIC FELLOWSHIP FOR DUTCH MUSEUM

Pictured at Bamako Airport, Mali, former Air Mali Fokker F28 TZ-ASH was originally the first production example, PH-MOL. It is hoped the historic machine can be repatriated to the Netherlands.
VIA SANDRA DRAAISMA

Plans to recover the first production example of the Fokker F28 Fellowship, PH-MOL, from Bamako Airport in Mali for display in the newly opened Dutch Transport Museum in Nieuw-Vennep, six miles south-west of Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, are currently being formulated.

The nearly 50-year-old airframe has been sitting in the hot sun in a remote corner of the airport for 16 years, but the authorities are now looking at giving the place a makeover. If the recovery attempt isn’t successful, the historic twin-jet machine faces being broken up.

The first prototype F28 regional jet made its maiden light in May 1967, with ‘MOL getting airborne for the first time on 20 October 1969. It was to remain the property of the Fokker factory, being leased to several companies that temporarily needed an additional aircraft. During the periods when the machine was not rented out, it continued to be used for test work with Fokker to update the original design. The nature of the lease arrangements meant that ‘MOL had to be painted in the new operator’s colours on top of the previous coat, so the entire history of the machine — in 20 layers of paint — is still in situ. Among the schemes are those of Itavia, Braathens, Martinair Holland, LTU International, Nigeria Airways, Air Gabon and Air Anglia, the latter of which (see Aeroplane February 2017) operated the machine during 1978-79.

A total of 243 examples of the Fellowship were built before production was terminated in 1987. The type went on to be developed into the Fokker 100 and the Fokker 70, which was finally retired by KLM Cityhopper in October 2017 — the last Fokker aircraft type to be flown by the Dutch lag-carrier.

During 2008 a previous attempt to repatriate the aircraft failed, but with 2019 marking the centenary of both KLM and Fokker three organisations — the Fokker Heritage Trust Foundation, the Fokker Heritage Foundation and the Dutch Transport Museum — have joined forces in an effort to get PH-MOL back home.

The Dutch Transport Museum in Nieuw-Vennep opened on 28 April 2018 as a pop-up museum in a former Bols Advocaat liqueur factory building. It has been created through a collaboration between 11 foundations, covering aircraft, buses, trains, cars and so on. There are plans to move the museum to a new development close by, called Park 21, in the next few years.

The star aviation exhibit on show is Douglas DC-2 c/n 1288, which was donated to the collection by Anne Cor Groeneveld, founder of the Dutch Dakota Association, during late 2017.