Friend In Holland
A Warsaw summer afternoon from Polska
friend in Holland, Jos van der Woensel, is currently
in the fight of his life.
Dutch-born van der Woensel
spent 18 years as an air cargo GSA for a company he
started called Zygene EFC bv.
Prior to that time, Jos
was part of the famed “Foreign Legion” and
was a disciple of Al Levinson at Seaboard World Airways.
Later, Jos would build
a solid reputation at Pan Am Clipper Cargo.
After Pan Am fell and
went out of business, Jos moved into his fortune-making
role as an air cargo GSA. His first account as GSA was
LOT Polish Airlines.
He retired in 2005 after
selling his company.
That same year, he met
the great photographer, Peter Schumacher, and the duo
created a landmark coffee table picture book, “Polska
It served as a complete
time capsule capturing another era and represented a
masterful collection of great people caught in sensitive,
emotional pictures depicting everyday life – at
the market, sunbathing on the now vanished Wisla beaches
at Warsaw and Krakow, and generally enJoying life despite
the turbulent political circumstances.
As an homage to a great
people and created with a beautiful master’s touch,
“Polska 1963” is at once uplifting and should
be treasured now as this country emerges as the true
geographical center of Europe.
So it is that later in
life, Jos became this most accomplished photographer
and writer. He has even contributed some writing for Air Cargo News/FlyingTypers, like the wonderful
Tree Grows at Schiphol” written about a Redwood
tree that was planted at Schiphol Airport by Seaboard
Cargo people in 1969 and still stands today.
Jos is able to translate
exactly what he sees into pictures that transform those
minute things that most would outright dismiss, creating
dramatic montages with a level of detail and sweep that
reminds me of the movie director Sergei Eisenstein.
But now, doctors have
discovered that Jos is suffering from a terrible cancer
that challenges him in almost every way possible, sapping
all but his spirit.
For the past few months
we have received short and very brave updates from Jos,
like the one that came this Saturday:
I was again at the Academic Hospital for further in-depth
tests and the outcome was again non-conclusive but more-over,
in some ways, not too good either.
“For that reason,
the Medical Team did decide to operate on me again this
Tuesday (June 8) and try to remove 2 or 3 of the neck-tumors
to match them with the last removals a week ago.
of these tests will take most of the next coming weeks,
so don't worry if you do not hear from me until the
end of June.
get back to you all after my coming operation, with
hopefully some good news.
“I am still
in a fighting spirit; reading, writing, filming and
photographing like in the old days.
once said (with a little twist of my own):
fight it on the oceans, we will fight it on the beaches;
in the streets and in the squares; we will fight, but
we will Never Surrender!"
Jos is standing up and
facing the demon.
His outlook has deepened
our appreciation of the strength and power of the human
We often ponder over the
passing scene in these editions, recalling people we
once knew moving out of air cargo and our lives.
Rarely can we truly share
these moments and celebrate the experiences of a very
Jos encourages and inspires
us, and we want him to know that.
Let it be said that air
cargo takes care of its own.