Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport

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Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport
Airport type Public
Operator Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport (JAPIA) Corporation
Serves Paramaribo
Location Zanderij
Elevation AMSL 59 ft / 18 m
Coordinates 05°27′10.19″N 55°11′16.02″W / 5.4528306°N 55.1877833°W / 5.4528306; -55.1877833Coordinates: 05°27′10.19″N 55°11′16.02″W / 5.4528306°N 55.1877833°W / 5.4528306; -55.1877833
SMJP is located in Suriname
Location in Suriname
Direction Length Surface
ft m
11/29 11,417 3,480 Concrete
Source: World Aero Data[1]

Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport (IATA: PBMICAO: SMJP), also known as Paramaribo-Zanderij International Airport, is an airport located in the town of Zanderij, 45 kilometres (28 mi) south of Paramaribo. It is the larger of Suriname's two international airports,[2] (the other being Zorg en Hoop with scheduled flights to Guyana) and is operated by Airport Management, Ltd./ NV Luchthavenbeheer.


The early years[edit]

Prior to World War II, Zandery Airport was a Pan American World Airways stop. In 1928 Pan American World Airways started mail flights from Miami to Paramaribo, the capital of the then Dutch colony Suriname. Pan American World Airways used Sikorsky S-38 amphibians. Rich and famous Americans, mostly aviators, visited Suriname. [3] On 24 March 1934 female pilot Guggenheim and male pilot Russel Thaw had to make an emergency landing near the Nieuwe Haven, because they could not find Zanderij airfield. The Lockheed airplane was so severely damaged that it was shipped back to the USA. On 16 April 1934 female aviator Laura Ingalls landed in a single engine airplane, the Lockheed Air Express at Zanderij in the first solo flight around South America in a landplane. The KLM tri-motor Fokker F-XVIII, named "the Snip", made a trans-atlantic crossing from Amsterdam via Paramaribo to Curaçao, carrying mail. The trip of 11,000 kms (4,000 over water) landed 8 days after take-off from Schiphol, on 22 December 1934 at Hato Airport. Captain was J.J. Hongdong, co-pilot/navigator J.J. van Balkom, engineer L.D. Stolk, wireless operator S. v.d. Molen. The route was from Amsterdam via Marseille, Alicante, Casablanca, Cabo Verde, Paramaribo and Caracas.[4] The Snip landed at Zanderij Field on December 20th, 1934 after a first trans-atlantic crossing of 3300 km, dubbed "the Christmas Mail-flight", directly from Porto Praia. However, the Snip flight did not inaugurate a regular KLM trans-Atlantic service. In January 1937 William Henry Vanderbilt III landed in a baby Clipper Sikorsky S-38 at Zanderij with wife and friends The Flying Hutchinsons. On 3 June 1937 aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart landed at Zanderij with a Lockheed Model 10 Electra at local time 2.38 P.M. The navigator was a retired Pan Am pilot Fred Noonan. [5] This was on their second attempt of a "World Flight" enroute from Miami to Natal and then transatlantic to Dakar, Senegal. [6] They stayed overnight at the Palace Hotel in Paramaribo and left Zanderij again on Friday 4 June 1937 for Fortaleza, Brazil.[7] One month later they disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean near Howland Island.[8] On 16 March 1938 two pilots Whitney and Harmon made an emergency landing with their Beechcraft on an airstrip near the Eerste Rijweg. They could not find Zanderij Airfield. On 11 May 1939 The Flying Hutchinsons arrived at Zanderij in a twin engine Lockheed Electra, on their "family round-the-world global nations flight" which was broadcast on a radio series sponsored by Pepsi Cola. [9] [10]

Expansion during World War II by the US Armed Forces[edit]

After the fall of the Netherlands to German forces in 1940, the United States obtained military basing rights to the airport from the Netherlands government-in-exile in London. The first American armed forces arrived at the airport on 30 November 1941 and expanded the facilities to be a transport base for sending Lend-Lease supplies to England via air routes across the South Atlantic Ocean. The runways were constructed by the US Corps of Engineers. They also built the road from Onverwacht to Zanderij which was completed in 1942.

With the United States entry into the war in December 1941, the importance of Zandery Field increased drastically, becoming a major transport base on the South Atlantic route of Air Transport Command ferrying supplies and personnel to Freetown Airport, Sierra Leone and onwards to the European and African theaters of the war. In addition, antisubmarine patrols were flown from the airfield over the southern Caribbean and South Atlantic coastlines.

Major USAAF units assigned to the airfield were:

Detachment operated from: Atkinson Field, British Guiana, 1 November 1942 – 7 October 1943
Detachment operated from: Piarco Airport, Trinidad, 27 August-12 October 1943

Just before the Pearl Harbor Attack, on 3 December, the 99th Squadron was ordered to distant Zandery Field, Dutch Guiana (by way of Piarco Field, Trinidad) under an agreement with the Netherlands government-in-exile, by which the United States occupied the colony to protect bauxite mines. However, to the disappointment of the crews, the squadron had to leave its B-17 behind. It was, however, reinforced with additional B-18A Bolo's, bringing squadron strength up to six aircraft. On 2 October 1942, a B-18A, piloted by Captain Howard Burhanna Jr. of the 99th Bomb Squadron, depth charged and sank the German U-boat U-512 north of Cayenne, French Guiana.[11]

At Zandery, the unit shuttled from Zandery to Atkinson Field, British Guiana and, by January 1942, had eight Curtiss P-40C Warhawks assigned. The P-40s were, in actuality detached for airfield defense by the Trinidad Base Command, under which the 99th fell at the time. [12]

The intensive flying of the first two months of the war soon took its toll, however, and by the end of February 1942, the Squadron was forced to report that it had but three B-18A's operational at Zandery and that " .... none of them are airworthy at this time." Apparently the unit was quickly reinforced and by 1 March strength was back up to six aircraft, and seven combat crews, all of whom had more than 12 months experience.

Operations from Zandery Field consisted of coastal, convoy and anti-submarine patrols until 31 October 1942. Just prior to which time the 4th Antisubmarine Squadron was attached to the Squadron between 9 and 16 October. At this point Antisubmarine Command took over the mission of the 99th and the men and aircraft of the squadron were reassigned.

With the end of World War II Zandery Airfield was reduced in scope to a skeleton staff. It was closed as a military facility on 30 April 1946. And on 22 October 1947 the Zandery Air Force Base was turned over to Dutch authorities which returned it to a civil airport. At that time the value of the facility was estimated to be Sf. 400.000,-.

Highlights in the years after the second World War[edit]

In March 1947 Alfredo de Los Rios landed with a 8-F Luscombe plane at Zanderij. He had traveled from the aircraft factory Dallas, Texas in the U.S.A.. In June 1959 pilots and missionaries Robert Price and Eugene Friesen arrived at Zandery with a single engine plane. They performed many medical treatment work in the interior and the Sipaliwini savannah. On March 3rd, 1960 American president Dwight D. Eisenhower landed at Zanderij with Air Force One, a Boeing 707 jet. He was accompanied by Secretary of State Christian Herter. They left Suriname the same day. On 14 April 1967 American president Lyndon B. Johnson arrived during a rainstorm at Zanderij with the Air Force One Boeing 707. Security was tight around Zanderij Airport. An agreement was signed by the Dutch government and the USA to use Zanderij Airport for Military Airlift Command (MAC) usage. The USA paid US$ 22.000,- for 400 landings per year. The crews stayed overnight at the Torarica Hotel. The North American X-15 NASA rocket-powered aircraft was on exhibition at Zanderij Airport for an Airshow held from 8-13 November in 1963. On April 7th, 1972 the first ever Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet on South American soil, from KLM, landed at Zanderij Airport, Suriname.

Planned Modernisation of JAP 2012–2015[edit]

The state will invest an extra US$70 million in expanding and modernizing the J.A. Pengel airport. US$28.5 million has been invested so far in the airport's modernization. For the time being, the arrival lounge, commercial center and parking lot have been handed over, while the runway has been repaved, the platform for planes has been renovated, the runway lights on the arrival side have been replaced and a backup system for electricity has been installed as well. The project, which was prepared during the previous administration, is insufficient to actually turn the airport into an international hub. The departure and arrival lounges are currently apart from each other, but plans are to connect them by 2014 with airbridges. Lights must be placed on the departure side of the runway, and the platform should be expanded to accommodate more planes. The fire department barracks will be moved to a more central location. Plans are to have the airbridges installed in 2014, when Suriname will host the next UNASUR heads-of-state meeting, while the other matters must be finished by 2015.

Airlines and destinations[edit]


As of May 2014, the following passenger airlines operate at the airport

Airlines Destinations
Caribbean Airlines Port of Spain
Insel Air Curaçao
KLM Amsterdam
Surinam Airways Amsterdam, Aruba, Belém-Val de Cans, Cayenne, Curaçao, Georgetown-Cheddi Jagan, Miami, Port of Spain


Airlines Destinations
ABX Air Miami
Amerijet International Miami
DHL Air Georgetown-Cheddi Jagan, Port of Spain


Airlines Destinations
Hi-Jet Caribbean, South American Regional charter routes
Caricom Airways Caribbean, South American Regional charter routes
Gum Air Caribbean, South American Regional charter routes

New Startup Airline[edit]

Airlines Destinations
Fly All Ways Caribbean, South American Regional routes, not announced yet for 2014

Former Airline Operators at SMJP[edit]

Airlines Destinations
Pan American World Airways (Pan Am) United States
Antilliaanse Luchtvaart Maatschappij (ALM) Curaçao
Air France Cayenne, Paris
Serviços Aéreos Cruzeiro do Sul (Cruzeiro) Belém-Val de Cans
BWIA West Indies Airways (BWIA) Port of Spain
British Caledonian London Heathrow Airport, Amsterdam
Guyana Airways Georgetown
Air Aruba Aruba, Miami
Dutch Caribbean Airlines (DCA) Curaçao
Martinair Amsterdam
Air Caraïbes Cayenne
Dutch Antilles Express (DAE) Curaçao

Incidents and accidents[edit]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]