Head in the clouds: Dutch king was guest pilot for 21 years


While Willem-Alexander's love of flying was not secret, his interview revealed far more detail about the extent of his regular piloting for KLM. It was their king.

The king will now have to go through what is called a conversion exercise in which he will have to train to fly the Boeing 737 passenger jets.

Making the KLM Royal Dutch Airlines a truly royal service, the Dutch King Willem-Alexander revealed that he flew planes as a co-pilot often with the airlines.

"You have a plane, passengers and crew and you are responsible for them. You have responsibility for them", the king told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.

You'd assume royal families would hermetically seal their highest-ranking members in underground vaults, on account of all the bad circumstances liable to befall those who don't live in actual palaces. You can for a brief moment disconnect and concentrate on something else.

He notes that not many people recognize him when he walks through Schiphol Airport in his KLM uniform.

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The airline is in the process of phasing out the Fokker 70 planes which means that in order to keep up his double life Alexander would have to take classes and retrain in order to fly the larger Boeing 737s.

He said: 'Before September 11, the cockpit door was open. As a co-pilot, he is also not required to give his name when speaking.

Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, second from left, signs the Act of Abdication next to Prince Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands and Princess Maxima of the Netherlands during a ceremony at the Royal Palace in Amsterdam on April 30.

While making announcements, the King does not always say his name.

"I find flying simply fantastic", he told the newspaper, describing his monthly flights as a "hobby which requires complete concentration". This became especially true after the 9/11 attacks when access to the cockpit was easy and passengers would come by and be surprised to see him sitting there.

Then he observes "that no one listens anyway".