Dutch king reveals double life as an airline pilot for KLM

Bruno Cirelli
Mag 20, 2017

Putman told the Telegraaf the king has proven himself to be a standout co-pilot over his years of flying.

Willem-Alexander said that he plans to retrain to fly KLM's Boeing 737s so passengers will have many more opportunities to be flown by royalty. "But then, most people don't listen anyway".

'You have an aircraft, passengers and crew.

Willem-Alexander said he is rarely recognized by passengers, especially since security was tightened on board planes in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. You can not take your problems from the ground with you in the sky.

He added: "I find flying simply fantastic. That, for me, is the most relaxing part of flying", the king told De Telegraaf.

King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands first got his pilot's license in 1985 and has been a co-pilot on commercial jets for the past 21 years.

The twice monthly flights for KLM allow him to keep his flying hours up to the 150 hour-a-year requirement.

Prior to the September 11 terror attacks, he said, when the cockpit doors used to remain open, he would sometimes be spotted by people.

The Dutch king is by no means the only royal who enjoys flying. "People regularly came to have a look and thought it was nice or surprising that I was sitting there", he said, adding that very few people would recognize him as he walked through Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport in a KLM uniform.

Willem-Alexander became the Prince of Orange in 1980, the heir to the Dutch throne, and king in 2013 after the death of Queen Beatrix. He pilots a Fokker 70 aircraft for the KLM Cityhopper service, but he is now being retrained to fly a 737, noted the BBC News. Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei sometimes pilots his own flights on state visits.

In Britain, the Duke of Cambridge is just finishing off a stint as an air ambulance helicopter pilot, his brother Prince Harry served in Afghanistan as an Apache helicopter co-pilot and their uncle Prince Andrew was a Royal Navy helicopter pilot during the Falklands War.

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