It took nine years, but then you have something. The Fokker D21 fighter aircraft is finished. A project on which 77-year-old Jack van Egmond has worked thousands of hours together with his son and grandson in a hangar in Hoogeveen. In July, the coffin will be officially presented at the nearby airport to parties involved in the process. It is the only D21 in the world that can fly.
Grandson Tom Wilps (22) is happy after completing the project. He was thirteen years old when he started tinkering with the Fokker together with his grandfather Jack van Egmond and that creates a bond. “You spend a lot of time together, which makes it special. But also the bond you have built up with the aircraft, I cannot express in words how important the Fokker has become for me and the family.”
It is also called the ‘Dutch Flying Legend’, the Fokker D.21. It is one of the last fighters that Fokker built in the thirties. Original aircraft are no longer there, but replicas are. There is one in Soesterberg and another one in Finland. Both cannot fly. So the box in Hoogeveen is.
In April, the last test flights were completed by the English pilot Dan Griffith. Now we are waiting for the document that the aircraft is officially registered for use. “We hope to receive the note within three or four weeks,” Wilps continues.
It is also a relief for his grandfather that the project has been completed. “He has been working on it for forty years. In those years he has dug up all kinds of different parts. He has invested a lot of time in recent years.”
The fighter aircraft will be presented to the public at a festive gathering in July. Everyone involved talks there. Aircraft parts manufacturer GKN Fokker, among others, has been invited. The plane will fly in a circle for those present.
Most of the time for the restoration of the aircraft has been in the front wing. “You need special wood from Alaska for that and it’s almost impossible to get. Based on old ones from the thirties, we completely rebuilt the wing.”
For Van Egmond and Wilps, the adventure with the Fokker D21 comes to an end. The plane will not disappear in a museum. “Grandpa doesn’t want that,” explains Wilps. “He thinks the aircraft should continue to fly. The fighter aircraft can therefore be seen at various shows in the coming years, but hopefully also during May 4 and 5. He also wants the Fokker to remain in the family.”
They cannot sit still. They are currently looking forward to a new project. “Also a Fokker, but I can’t tell you much about that yet,” says Wilps.
In September 2021 we took a look at the project: