AKA Johan Willem Emile Louis Hilgers, Johan Hilgers & John Hilgers
Jan Hilgers
J.W.E.L. Hilgers and his homebuilt plane, 1911
Collection of Jean-Pierre Lauwers

Jan Hilgers
Jan Hilgers and his Student Pilots at Soesterberg, 1911
Standing, L to R: P.W.G. Metelerkamp, Kappenberg, A. v. Heyst, P. Lion.
Sitting, L to R: Loomans, Coblijn , Van Benthem v. d. Berg
Collection of Jean-Pierre Lauwers

From Jean-Pierre Lauwers, 4-16-02
     Hilgers was the first DUTCH pilot to make a flight in Holland, on July 29, 1910.
     He was born in Probolingo, East Java, Indonesia!
     He studied at a technical school for mechanics while living in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. His free time hobby, building model aeroplanes.
     He was later in the service of the Verwey and Lugard firm, which used the airfields of Ede, and Soesterberg, the Netherlands. He had access to a Blériot XI at Ede. His firm contacted him in a hurry and ordered him to return from France to Ede when they learned that Clément Van Maasdijk (pilot) was planning to fly at Herenveen (Holland)! J.W.E.L.Hilgers had just learned to fly and wasn't sufficiently skilled yet, but he did manage to make some straight line flights, even though he hadn't yet learned how to turn in flight...
     He was indeed to be "the first" Dutchman to have made a flight in Holland!
     Hilgers was a pilot-instructor in 1911 according to the papers from which I extracted the photos above! But for an officially authorized license, he had to pass an examination given by the ENV, (Eerste Nederlandse Vliegvereniging - First Dutch Aviation Organisation), . Hilgers obtained license n°4 on August 12, 1912.
     Later he was in the service of Fokker and made flights in Russia and India.
     He died in a Japanese prison camp at Ngwani, East-Java on July 21, 1945.

via email from Jeroen Hilgers, 11-9-04
     Jan Hilgers was assigned by Fokker to go to Indonesia in 1913 to give flight demonstrations. He took along two Fokker monoplanes, one equipped with a 100pk (73.6 kw) Argus-motor, the other with a 80 pk (58.8 kw) Renault. Unfortunately, his test flights in India did not go well. The first for example, almost became his last. After a couple of rounds at an altitude of six hundred meters, he crashed down on the kampong of Baliwerti. Thus he set the unenviable record of being the first aviator to crash in Indonesia.
     He also flew in Russia at about the same time, so it could be that he was the first to have flown in that country.
Here are two sources of information:
     In a magazine called "Moesson," the edition of July 1998, there is an article about him.
     He is mentioned in a book called "Aviateurs van het eerste uur" De Nederlandse luchtvaart tot de eerste wereldoorlog" isbn: 9022837645
Jeroen Hilgers
via email from Rob van de Ven, 9-11-05
Dear Mr. Cooper,
I read the story about the early aviator Jan Hilgers.
He died in Ngawi (Java) 1944.
Does anyone know where he was buried? His name can be found in the lists of the Dutch Wargraves Association, but no grave-number is mentioned.
R.J. v/d Ven
Editor's Note: If anyone can help answer his question, please contact me and I will forward your response to Rob.

via email from Lulluk Hidayah, 4-17-06
Dear Mr Cooper,
my hometown is ngawi. My mother’s house near POW camp (still there now)
I will help if their family want to visit this camp.
And perhaps we will know where Mr Hilgers was buried.
Best regards,
Editor's Note: What an exciting and unexpected response to Rob's request for help. I hope to keep us informed of any developments. 4-18-06

via email from Lisette Rippe, 2-20-06
Dear Mr Cooper,
As you can see my name is Lisette Rippe, I am a great granddaughter of Jan Hilgers. Funny enough I was looking on the internet trying to find information about his daughter (my grandmother, Ada Hilgers) but I came on your site. You know more about my family than I do!
I do not know what more I can tell you but. I am trying to find out if my grandmother is still alive, if she is she would be the one to tell you more. The last time I have seen her I was probably about 5 years old (I am now 35) and about 10 years ago I have heard she was still alive.
I do remember my mom telling me that she has lost almost everyone in her family during the war but I think that the only son was actually her half brother, although I am not sure. If you have more information about my grandmothers family I would really appreciate it.
I really enjoyed reading about my relatives and if I can do anything for you just let me know.
Kind regards,
Lisette Rippe
Editor's Note: If anyone can help answer Lisette's questions, please contact me and I will forward your response to her.

     A search of the net on "Jan Hilgers" +luchtvaart, using Google, reveals 5 links, each of them of some interest.. (1-28-03). They are all written in Dutch, but I have found that the Systran website enables one to translate a website or a selected phrase from Dutch into English. You can access the site by clicking on:
De vlucht van Jan Hilgers
     This website is devoted primarily to the story of Jan Hilgers and is quite comprehensive It is written in Dutch, so unless you read that language, you may want to resort to the Systran program to read it in English. If you do try to read the machine-translation, you will find it to be somewhat awkward.To access the site, just click on the title above.
     This website is devoted to the story of Jan Hilgers It is written in Dutch, so unless you read that language, you may want to resort to the Systran program to read it in English. If you do try to read the machine-translation, you will find it to be somewhat awkward. However, you will be able to learn a lot about his career and something of the development Dutch aviation. To access the site, just click on the title above.

via email from Jeroen Hilgers, 11-7-04
     My name is Jeroen Hilgers. I am the son of Jim Hilgers who had an uncle Jan Hilgers. His real name was Johan Hilgers and not Jan.
     Here some info about Johan Willem Emile Louis Hilgers, his wife and his children:
     He married Blijenburg Anna,Sophia te Bangil, September 27, 1913. They had five daughters and a son, Croon, Fien, Ada, Bea, Laura and Maurits.
     Croon lived in England after the death of her son.
     Fien lived in Australia.
The other four live in Holland:
Bea H.(80) married Van der Meer in 1965, Acterste Molenweg,Epe, son.
Ada H.(79) married Ab Rippe, Rotterdam, son Richard (56)
Laura H.(68) married J. ter Horst, 3 sons (50,47,39)
Maurits H.(64) KLU professional soldier, married Mia Scholten, Rustenburgst.18, Eindhoven, son/daughter

1944/45? - Jan Hilgers died in a Japanese POW camp in Ngawi (Java)
Personal communication from Jean-Pierre Lauwers &
Rob van de Ven, 9-10-05

Editor's Note:
If you have any more information on him or his career,
please contact me.
E-mail to Ralph Cooper

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