Source = KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
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15 years after KLM was founded, Albert Plesman decided to take part in the prestigious 1934 Robertson Air Race from London to Melbourne. Unlike other competitors, some of which flew purpose-built airplanes, KLM took part with the regular DC2 "Uiver" liner and even took passengers and mail onboard.
When the race started, the Uiver did unexpectedly well, mainly due to the excellent ground support network at the stop-overs en route. On the last day, only hours from Melbourne, the Uiver found itself in a comfortable first position. But just when captain Palmantier had gone to the back to shave and get changed for the trophy event, his plane got caught in a fierce electric storm that threw it of course.
Completely disorientated, the pilots decided to descend to a lower altitude in the hopes of visually establishing their location. They saw a town and tried to establish radio contact, but failed. The postmaster of Albury received the message and went to the city’s main switchboard. Using the entire Albury lighting grid he signaled in Morse: A-L-B-U-R-Y.
The postmaster then directed all of Albury’s motor cars to go to the race course and use the headlights to create a landing strip for the UIVER. Almost running out of fuel, the Uiver landed safely in Albury on 23 October, only about 400K from Melbourne. The following morning, it became clear that the landing gear was stuck in the mud. Once again the people of Albury came to the rescue. By pure manpower the plane was dragged out of the mud. It took off and eventually won the prestigious award in the handicap section.Back home in the Netherlands, the story started a mass euphoria, a welcome distraction from the great depression. It also showed the way for ICA travel. The postmaster who played such an important role in the story received a royal decoration for his part.