The Life of Aviation Pioneer Anthony Fokker

On April 6 in the year 1890, one of the pioneers in the aviation industry was born in Kediri, East Java, Indonesia. His name was Anthony Herman Gerard “Anthony” Fokker, the founder of Fokker Aeroplane (Germany) and Atlantic Aircraft Corporation (US).

Anthony Fokker
Anthony Fokker

Anthony Fokker was the son of tea and coffee plantation owner in the Netherland-occupied Indonesia. He dropped out of high school because he had reportedly no inclination for classroom learning. Early on, he showed interest in mechanical things. So his father sent him to Germany to study automotive manufacturing. There he became enamored at the emerging aviation industry. Curious about the Wright Brothers’ experiment in flying, he himself started to design and build his own airplane.

In 1910, Anthony Fokker finished and flew his first monoplane aircraft which he called the Spider but his friend crashed it. He built a second but it crashed too. On the third try, he was successful. Out of excitement, he travelled to his family’s hometown in the Netherlands and wowed his people, including the queen, about his flying skill.

When World War I, broke out, Anthony Fokker tried to sell his aircraft to the French but he was ignored. So he went back to Germany and made a grand demonstration. The German military ordered two aircrafts right away. Anton then formed his first company named Fokker Aeroplanbau. He went on to build several other monoplane aircraft models. In 1916, Anton introduced his biplane and many of which were used extensively in the war.

After the war, Germany was devastated and manufacturing aircraft proved to be difficult. Anthony Fokker moved to Netherlands and built an aircraft factory there. However, there was no demand for his product.

Sensing that America was where the aircraft industry would develop more rapidly, Anthony Fokker moved there in 1924. He immediately established Atlantic Aircraft Corporation. His company designed and marketed the Fokker Trimotor which became a sensation for its comfort and safety features. In 1929, GM acquired control of his company which was then renamed Fokker Aircraft. Anton remained as a technical consultant director and was responsible for the development of F-series of aircraft such as the popular F-11 Amphibians, F-14 Transport, and the F-32 aircraft which at that time was America’s largest flying machine.

Anthony Fokker died of pneumococcal meningitis in 1939 at the age of 49. He married twice but had no children.


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