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.”
‘This is your Royal Highness speaking’ pic.twitter.com/koDBlHWqa8
— Royal Dutch Airlines (@KLM) May 17, 2017
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.