Aloft in the Netherlands

Aloft in the Netherlands
A WWII era PBY Catalina

Herman is a young Dutchman living in a small city called Zaltbommel with his girlfriend and his dog. During the week, he works in a postal company office. On the weekends, he pursues his interest in historic aviation. That interest is how I connected with Herman.

For many years, I have been a member of an online community called PBY Groups. Its members are historians, veterans, and enthusiasts of the PBY Catalina, the floating boat aircraft of WWII. Through another group member, Heijo, I met Herman, via email. Herman is a crewmember of the Plane Sailing Catalina, a restored PBY aircraft. My interest in the PBY is personal: my father, a WWII Navy Photomate, served in Iceland during the war. Thanks to the PBY community, I better understand my father’s service and have a deep sense of what it felt for Dad to be stretched out over the North Atlantic in a PBY. That knowledge was invaluable to me while I was writing my novel, which is set in WWII Iceland.

To see a clip of a restored PBY in flight, click this link: 

All photos are Herman’s and used with his permission.

My Conversation with Herman

Please look out a window in your home and tell me what you see.

Unsaved Preview Document 6At this moment, it is summer, around 24c, and overcast. This is what I see if I look outside.

You are from the Netherlands, which is comprised of twelve provinces. Holland (North and South) are two of those provinces. Your native language is Dutch, which is also your ethnicity. Did I get that right?

Yes, you got this right. I live in Gelderland, which is almost the biggest province.

What misconception or stereotype about your country and its people would you like to set straight?

That we are all on drugs, wear clogs, and grow tulips.

In your opinion, what does the Netherlands do the best?

We tolerate what others believe and have freedom of speech.

What struggles do you face in the Netherlands?

Too many people on a small spot of land.

What is your honest impression of life in the United States?

Do love the country, been there several times, and have great friends there. What I do not understand is the gun law. Everyone can carry a gun; it is in the constitution. Because it is so easy to buy a gun and no one will ask if you can handle a gun, you will have a lot of accidents and uncontrolled shootings.

Where is your favorite place to be in the Netherlands?

De Hoge Veluwe, this is a national park.

Who or what inspires you?

People who give a speech and leave you breathless.

Who or what concerns or frightens you?

People, groups, or countries that act in the so-called best interests for everyone and do not think of the consequences.

Please share a favorite quote of your choosing on any subject.

Friendship improves happiness and abates misery by doubling our joys and dividing our grief.


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