The King Of Holland Has Been Moonlighting As A Commercial Airline Pilot

The king of the Netherlands has a side job quietly flying commercial flights for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.

King Willem-Alexander was a “guest pilot” for years before his coronation, but he continued to fly for KLM as a co-pilot after becoming king, the monarch told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf in an interview, according to the BBC.

Willem-Alexander said he never reveals his identity to his passengers, though a few people recognize his voice.

“The advantage is that I can always say that I warmly welcome passengers on behalf of the captain and crew,” Willem-Alexander said. “Then I don’t have to give my name. But most of the (passengers) don’t listen anyway.”

Willem-Alexander assists flying short flights between European cities about twice a month, the Dutch government told De Telegraaf. KLM is switching from Fokker 70 planes to Boeing 737s, meaning Willem-Alexander will have to retrain as a co-pilot for the new aircraft.

“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. “I find flying simply fantastic.”

“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.”

Willem-Alexander isn’t the only royal with a pilot job. All three British royals in line for the throne are accomplished pilots. Prince Charles, the first in line for the crown, learned to fly fighter jets in the 1970s, but gave up flying after he crashed a plane over Scottish islands in 1994. Prince William was a search-and-rescue helicopter pilot, and Prince Harry flew Apache helicopters in Afghanistan.

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