World Leader and Aviator: King of The Netherlands Reveals Secret Gig as an Airline Pilot

The Dutch king flies a Fokker 70 aircraft (Photo: KLM)

In an interview with Dutch newspaper, De Telegraaf, King Willem-Alexander revealed that he has secretly been flying as a KLM pilot twice a month for 20 years.

Flying KLM’s fleet of Fokker 70 aircraft, the 50-year-old Dutch king considers flying as a “hobby” and states that it lets him leave his royal duties on the ground and focus on something completely else.

“You have an aircraft, passengers and crew. You have responsibility for them,” the king told De Telegraaf. “You can’t take your problems from the ground into the skies. You can completely disengage and concentrate on something else. That, for me, is the most relaxing part of flying.”

In his role as a “guest pilot,” the king served as a co-pilot, meaning that he did not have to give up his name during passenger announcements. While many people may have been able to recognize his voice, people often were not able to put two and two together. The King also added that he is not regularly recognized by passengers, especially after cockpit security was tightened post-9/11.

“Before September 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,” he said, adding that very few people would recognize him as he walked through Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport in a KLM uniform.

Prior to flying with KLM, the king had spent time with the Royal Netherlands Air Force and flew with Dutch cargo airline, Martinair.

Soon, King Willem-Alexander will be retrained to fly KLM’s Boeing 737s as the Fokker 70s are being phased out soon.

Akhil Dewan

Akhil Dewan

An “AvGeek” for most of his life, Akhil has always been drawn to aviation. If there is an opportunity to read about an airline, fly on a new airplane, or talk to anyone about aviation, he is on it. Akhil has been on over 20+ different kinds of aircraft, his favorite being the MD-80. Additionally, he has visited 5 continents and plans to knock out the remaining two (Africa and Antarctica) soon. Based in Dallas, Akhil graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in Management Information Systems and currently works in consulting. His dream is to become an airline executive.
Akhil Dewan
  • Southeast PDXer

    Now that’s a way to be a world leader. Don’t hog the limelight, and work for the people. Shame we here in the US can’t have that type of thing.