King Willem-Alexander took the throne in the Netherlands back in 2013, but as king he wanted to continue pursuing his passion for flying. On Wednesday, he revealed that he has been a co-pilot on commercial Dutch flights, even though passengers have been completely in the dark that the king is in the cockpit.
“I find flying simply fantastic,” Willem-Alexander told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf. Now he is learning to fly Boeing 737’s so he can continue to fly for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, which is phasing out the Fokker 70 aircraft for which he is trained. By flying these commercial flights twice a month, he can complete his 150 hour per year requirement to retain his license.
According to BBC News, King Willem-Alexander is not the only royal figure who enjoys flying:
The Dutch king’s appetite for flying was apparently encouraged by his mother, Beatrix, who abdicated as queen in 2013. And he is on a long list of royal pilots:
—The Sultan of Brunei is known to fly his own Boeing 747
—Prince Charles is a qualified pilot as are both his sons
—Prince William gives up his role as RAF air ambulance helicopter pilot this year
—Prince Harry served in Afghanistan as an Apache helicopter co-pilot
—Jordan’s King Abdullah is a trained pilot
Some people recognize the king’s voice when he addresses passengers, but here’s how Willem-Alexander responds to that, as translated by DutchNews.NL:
“The advantage is that I can always say I am speaking on behalf of the captain and crew to welcome them on board,” he laughs. “So I don’t have to say my name. But then, most people don’t listen anyway.”