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   Vol. 19 No. 5
Thursday January 23, 2020
The Redwood At Schiphol
Schiphol Redwood tree
Schiphol Redwood tree Frank Volavsek,  John F. Vuurstte and Douwes Dekker
     On October 16, 1969, Frank Volavsek, General Manager of Seaboard World Airlines and his Sales Manager John F. Vuursteen, handed over the root of a Sequoia Gigantea to Mr. Douwes Dekker, Managing Director of the Schiphol Airport Authority to commemorate the first ever DC8-freighter flight between the American West Coast and Schiphol Airport.
     In 1994, both Frank and John got together for the 25th anniversary of the occasion.

John Vuursteen and Jos van der Woensel     Well as it is said, time and the river . . . in this case we returned 26 years later realizing that if you want to plant a giant redwood on an airport, aside from having some good luck, and care and feeding, you also need a friendly airport neighbor like a control tower next door.
     So here we are today with some pictures from dear John Vuursteen, who is still alive and well and when he can, keeping up with the tree he planted at Schiphol 51 years ago.
     Before the late Jos van der Woensel (pictured here with John in 2009), also an advocate of the tree, departed this dimension in March 2011, he delivered a gem to read for anybody who loves air cargo.
     Now that the Seaboard World Redwood at Schiphol is celebrating 51 years we bring back our dear Jos to tell the story once more.

     Talking about air cargo, its origin and fascinating history, you often stroll through memories to discover some unexpected sparkles in the ashes of the past.
     Real pearls of another era that still linger on in present times.
     For myself, I started in 1968 at Aeroground Services as a warehouse handler.
     My career continued in the early seventies at Pan Am Cargo as cargo representative, and later at Seaboard World Airlines and before the 70’s closed I returned to Pan Am Cargo in 1980.
     My time with Seaboard or SWA in Amsterdam I will never forget, nor my years with the Pan Am family.
     Because we were families in the air cargo industry, competitors or not, the memories and relationships have lingered over the years.
     We did what we felt right to do and kept communication amongst ourselves always open.
     You never knew when you needed each other; operationally, technically or in competitive marketing deals.
     Things changed amongst the major airlines in air cargo over the years, but that’s life’s evolution.
     It’s only a natural process.
     So coming from the times that the air cargo industry in Holland belonged to names like Henk Schiphorst, John Vuursteen, Cees Uittenbogaard, Wibo Aris, Frank Volavsek, Gerard van Eekhout, Adriaan and Walter Bierman, Ad Scheepbouwer, Peter Legro, Leo de Haas, Rene Smit and Ohta San, to name just a few offers me (and you dear reader) a brief encounter with another time and group of air cargo people.
     Once upon a time in the international air cargo field, as a youngster you met and looked up to people like Colin Witt, Ralph Wuergler, Jerry O’Driscoll, Bill Boesch, John Mahoney and in particular John V. Keenan and Al Levinson:
     “Give me a Genever, son, and 4 of these lovely salted raw-herrings,” was Al all the way.
     Those were fascinating, bigger than life air cargo times in Holland.
     So many names passed, so many names stayed.
     But at Schiphol Airport there was an enigma . . .
     In 1969, Frank Volavsek, General Manager of Seaboard World Airlines in the presence of John F. Vuursteen, his Sales Manager at that time, handed over the root of a Sequoia Gigantea to Mr. Douwes Dekker, Managing Director of the Schiphol Airport Authority during an official ceremony at Schiphol.
     The event was held to commemorate the first ever DC-8 freighter flight between the American West Coast and Schiphol Airport.
     The date was October 16, 1969 to be precise.
     The initiative of Seaboard to plant what in two or three hundred years might become a giant California Redwood Tree was soon followed by other airlines.
     But only 3 trees survived over the years in the special ocean-climate that is the Low-Lands here.
     Over the four decades since it was planted, despite storms, the salty atmosphere near the ocean and even drought, the SWA Sequoia has pushed ever skyward.
     Along the way, even though SWA and almost everybody else was long gone, ever watchful John F. Vuursteen who followed in the footsteps of Frank Volavsek in his position at Seaboard World Airlines, in the capacity of Director Benelux & Scandinavia, kept the SWA tradition high in seeking the well-being of what both considered “their tree.”
     In 1994, Frank and John arranged a personal celebration, commemorating the Sequoia’s 25th anniversary; a now 40ft or 12 meter beauty.
Schiphol Sequoia Tree     John had become a very successful GSA at the airport he loved so much.
     Even after John retired he remained entangled and ever watchful of the fate of “Their Sequoia”.
     When I next met John again, we were discussing old ‘cargo times’ when he pointed out that the ‘The Ol’ Lady’ was still alive and kicking at the airport and now was a 20 meters or 66 foot tall beauty.
     I proposed to take some special pictures of the occasion.
     John was very glad to cooperate and tried hard to find Frank Volavsek’s contact address.
     Regretfully we found out that Frank died only 4 weeks before the planned photo-shoot at Schiphol.
     Frank is gone, but will be not forgotten.
     So here are some tokens of life within life. John F is still pushing the old lady as you can see.
     And for myself?
     I am proud to have been part of a Sequoiavian World of Giants.
     And Food for Thought . . .
     The average lifespan of the Sequoia Gigantea is 3,500 years.
     Now, ask yourselves, who will survive ?
     “The Ol’ Lady” or . . . Schiphol Amsterdam Airport?
     I hope both will.

Jos van der Woensel, Hoofddorp – The Netherlands
. . . Special thanks to Peter Walter and John Vuursteen

If You Missed Any Of The Previous 3 Issues Of FlyingTypers
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Vol. 19 No. 2
It Takes A Village To Ship Air Cargo
Chuckles for January 10, 2020

FT011420Vol. 19 No. 3
Quotable Mae Jemison
Chuckles for January 14, 2020
FedEx & Fred Still Together
White Paper Looks Ahead
Another One Bites The Dust?

Vol. 19 No. 4
ATC Steps Out Smartly In 2020
Chuckles for January 20, 2020
Lionel Is A Nice Guy First
Heavy Lifters At LAX

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