King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands revealed to Dutch newspaper, De Telegraaf that for the past 21 years he has flown twice a month as a co-pilot on commercial KLM flights, while passengers were in the dark. It was known that he occasionally flew to keep his up with his hours, but no one knew just how much the King was flying. He intends to keep flying as a co-pilot and will spend the next few months learning to fly Boeing 737s.
“I find flying simply fantastic,” he said.
The King often flies with KLM Captain Maarten Putman in a Fokker 70 for both the government and KLM Cityhopper service. The Fokker 70 is now being replaced with Boeing 737. He revealed to the newspaper that he never used his name when he was addressing passengers and was rarely recognised in his KLM uniform.
“The advantage is that I can always say that I warmly welcome passengers on behalf of the captain and crew,” he said. “Then I don’t have to give my name.”
“It also seemed nice to fly to other destinations one day, with more passengers and bigger distances. That was the real motive for training on the 737,” he said.
The King explained that flying for him was one of his biggest ways of relaxing.
“You have a plane, passengers and crew and you are responsible for them. You can’t take your problems with you off the ground. You can completely switch off for a while and focus on something else.
“Before Sept. 11, the cockpit door was open. People regularly came to have a look and thought it was nice or surprising that I was sitting there.”
King Willem-Alexander is not the only royal pilot. The Sultan of Brunei is known for flying his own Boeing 747, and the Prince of Wales and both his sons, the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry, are all qualified as pilots. King Abdullah II of Jordan is also a trained pilot.