Dutch King co-pilots KLM Cityhopper flights twice per month
King Willem-Alexander has been a guest-pilot at KLM for the past 21 years. That means that he co-pilots two KLM Cityhopper flights per month. The King calls it an ideal hobby for forgetting about your everyday problems. "You can completely switch off and focus on something else", he said in an interview with the Telegraaf, adding that it is impossible to fly a plane if you bring "problems from the ground with you".
KLM passengers may have had the King on board with them without even knowing it. According to Willem-Alexander, not many people connect the KLM pilot walking through Schiphol in full uniform with the Dutch King. "Before September 11th the cockpit door was simply open. And people regularly peeked in. And then people found it fun or amazing to see me sitting there. After September 11th, the cockpit door is closed and there is much less contact between the cabin and the cockpit. But yes, some people recognize my voice during the flight."
While making announcements, the King does not always say his name. "I can always say that I'm warmly welcoming the passengers on behalf of the captain and crew. Then I don't have to say my own name. But most people don't listen in any case."
KLM pilot Maarten Putman, who regularly flies with the King, calls Willem-Alexander an excellent co-pilot. "For the relatively few flying hours the king makes, he is always very sharp. He knows the procedures well. Very well", he said to the Telegraaf.
Tuesday was the last time the King sat in the cockpit of a KLM Cityhopper. He is now being retrained to be able to ly a Boeing 737.