Deseronto resident Johanna Gordanier visited the Archives today, looking for information on her uncle, Jos van Langen. He was a Dutchman who died in a plane crash in Europe in the 1930s. A little rooting around brought up a Dutch site on plane crashes and a page about the accident. The page is in Dutch, but Google’s translation service did a good job of converting the page into English.

Jos van Langan was an editor for the Dutch newspaper De Tijd. He was on his way home to Amsterdam from Milan, on a flight that would cross the Alps before stopping in Frankfurt. The aircraft, a KLM DC-2, ran into bad weather as it entered Switzerland, flying at an altitude of 5000 metres. Rather chillingly, van Langen recorded the last moments of the flight in his journal. You can see the readings of the altimeter, as the plane descended:


Jos van Langen's notebook


The pilot attempted a crash landing, but the plane landed awkwardly and the main fuselage was completely destroyed, killing all on board.

The notebook itself is now in the archive of the Press Museum in Amsterdam.

Another passenger killed on this flight was the English artist Arthur Watts. Examples of posters he produced for the London Underground can be seen at the London Transport Museum.

One of Watt’s illustrations featured a plane crash:


Flown the Atlantic have ye? Then supposin' you catch my cows and tell them about it!


This image (recovered from the Internet Archive) was originally on a website maintained by members of Arthur Watts’s family.