Dutch King Willem-Alexander discusses role as co-pilot for major airline | News | DW | 17.05.2017
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Dutch King Willem-Alexander discusses role as co-pilot for major airline

It's no secret Dutch King Willem-Alexander has a love of flying. What wasn't known until now: How often he's been moonlighting as a co-pilot for a major Dutch airline.

"Good morning, passengers. This is your king speaking."

At least, that's what many passengers would probably like to hear now that King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands has revealed he's been working as a regular co-pilot for his country's largest airline for more than two decades.

The king told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf on Wednesday that he has been flying twice a month as co-pilot for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines - but without disclosing his identity to passengers from the cockpit.

"I find flying simply fantastic," the monarch told the newspaper.

Deutschland | Niederländisches Königspaar besucht Sachsen (picture-alliance/Dutch Photo Press/P. van Katwijk)

King Willem-Alexander with Queen Maxima in Germany in 2016

A semi-secret hobby

Though it was already known he liked to fly commercial planes, this was the first time King Willem-Alexander, who acceded to the throne in 2013, had revealed publically how often he has been serving as a "guest pilot" for the airline.

"It's important to me that I have a hobby to focus on," he said. "You have an airplane, passengers and crew. You are responsible for them. You can't take your problems into the air. You can completely switch yourself off and focus on something else. That provides the greatest relaxation for me."

He also told the paper that he's starting conversion training to fly Boeing 737 passenger jets, enabling him to continue co-piloting KLM flights twice a month.

However, he will continue to hide his true identity from passengers - not that many will notice, according to him. "Most people do not listen [to the pilot]," he quipped to the newspaper.

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