I can appreciate a touch of action… at times, yet I’m clearly not an action addict. So whenever I found the opportunity to fly in a 72-year-old Fokker airplane while getting hands-on with a Dutch-made pilot’s watch, actually I was energized and somewhat anxious. The Van der Gang Vlieger (pilot in Dutch) is celebrating its fifth anniversary and there is a shiny new form available; the Van der Gang Vlieger Satiné.
Flying in a classic plane
As the briefing commenced and we got information about what was going to happen, the room gradually quietened down. It turned out the flight was going to include formation flying (cool!) with previous Dutch Airforce pilots on the controls, and some acrobatic tricks (perhaps not all that cool). As I referenced, I am not a daredevil, but rather I’m also not a chicken, so when I discovered that we would execute a full looping and barrel move in a 72-year-old Fokker S-11, I didn’t know I was going to appreciate the ride.
The Fokker S-11 was grown not long after WWII as a learning aircraft for the Dutch Airforce. A plane with low mounted wings and a one next to the other seating position with twofold controls allows the instructor to teach learners how to master flight. Four of these aircraft are being cared for by a team of 17 previous and active pilots, for the most part from the Dutch Airforce. The Fokker S-11 is a piece of Dutch aviation heritage and is kept in top shape to do demo flights, aerobatic flights, charity shows, commemorative flights and so on.
Right before we jumped aboard, a Van der Gang Vlieger watch was strapped to my wrist. I was in the subsequent group to go up in the air so had a little hands-on time with the watches. It is cool however, to wear a pilot’s watch on when you’re plan something straightforwardly related for aviation! More on the watches a little later.
Stepping into one of these aircraft with my 2-meter frame is somewhat interesting, and once strapped in I got somewhat of a cramp in my legs because of the unnatural position I wound up in. Strapped in my seat, we headed out to the runway and took off in pairs. The weather was just about wonderful so the canopy was opened for the greater part of the flight – except for the acrobatic maneuvers. I even found the opportunity to handle the stick myself and fly the plane for a piece, making a few turns left and right.
Shortly after that, the pilot asked on the off chance that I was ready for the looping and the barrel roll and I reluctantly gave him an approval signal. The pilot put the S-11 in a sharp jump, tallied down, and then sharply pulled back the stick. The pressing factor of 3G’s on my body was something I had never experienced. I attempted to zero in on my breathing and continued looking straight ahead as we completed the circle. Next up was the barrel move, something much more hair-raising than the loop!
After the two moves, I felt very queasy. All of us ventured out looking somewhat paler than before we took off, so no shame there. Notwithstanding the slight discomfort, the experience was amazing! To fly in formation, with just 2 meters of distance between the four airplanes is something hard to depict regarding sensation. It takes gigantic ability to master this and to protect it for everybody. After about 45 minutes of flying, I was glad to be back on the ground yet in all trustworthiness, I would do it again without a doubt! In the event that you at any point have the chance to accomplish something like this, go for it!
The Van der Gang Vlieger Watches
Van der Gang organized the occasion to showcase its Vlieger assortment. The Vlieger was introduced five years ago and comes in two sizes (41mm and 44mm) and in various tones and finishes, strap alternatives, and so on All feature a Valjoux 7751 chronograph development that has been changed over (in-house) to a bi-compax layout. A 12-hour GMT indication, AM/PM indicator and the date at 6 o’clock are adjusted with the pushers on the left, with the red pusher at 8 o’clock linked to the red GMT hand.
Previously, the Van der Gang Vlieger was available in steel, with or without an anthracite DLC coating, or a white aluminum hydroxide composite, which makes it exceptionally light and comfortable to wear. Presently however, as part of the five-year anniversary celebrations, a full gold form is available. This already sizeable watch gets a lot of extra weight when encased in gold and I like that, yet I don’t know it’s to everybody’s liking.
Regardless of the diameter of the Vlieger – 41mm or 44mm – the watch is very thick and sits high on the wrist. Notwithstanding the size and weight, except for the aluminum hydroxide composite model, the watch remains comfortable. That is generally because of the adaptable material straps and the sharp angled carries. A pin clasp or a folding clasp are available, as well as various dial tones. A final touch, again optional depending on the form, is a green shaded sapphire crystal, which I think is quite cool. The flattened larger than average crown grasps easily and feels very sturdy.
The rose gold Van der Gang Vlieger Satiné comes in a 41mm diameter with a matte white dial. The case is satin-finished by hand with a beautiful outcome. It is matched with a brilliant orange leather strap with a folding lock in gold. The GMT pusher at 8 o’clock is orange to match the overall theme of the watch.
The Van der Gang Vlieger assortment starts at simply under EUR 10,000. The new 18k rose gold Vlieger Satiné tops the line at EUR 25,800 and will be created in a restricted run of 99 pieces.
Special thanks to Van der Gang Watches and the Fokker Four Foundation for this once in a blue moon experience.