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Dutch King Secretly a KLM Airlines Pilot for 2 Decades

Image: Dutch King Secretly a KLM Airlines Pilot for 2 Decades

Dutch King Willem-Alexander (Screengrab via Twitter)

By Clyde Hughes   |   Friday, 19 May 2017 06:33 AM

Dutch King Willem-Alexander secretly has been an airline pilot for the past two decades, flying commercial passengers incognito for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.

The king began his flying career 21 years ago when he was still a prince, but continued his part-time guest pilot gig when he acceded to the throne in 2013, according to the BBC News on Wednesday.

Twice a month he flies as a "guest pilot," usually with Capt. Maarten Putman. He pilots a Fokker 70 aircraft for the KLM Cityhopper service, but he is currently being retrained to fly a 737, noted the BBC News.

The king told the Dutch newspaper Telegraaf this week that he is rarely recognized in his KLM uniform and cap and he never uses his name when he's talking with passengers. The royal said a handful, though, have recognized his voice.

"The advantage is that I can always say that I warmly welcome passengers on behalf of the captain and crew," King Willem-Alexander said, per the BBC News. "Then I don't have to give my name."

Putman told the Telegraaf the king has proven himself to be a standout co-pilot over his years of flying.

"For the relatively few flying hours the king makes, he is always very sharp," said Putman. "He knows the procedures well."

According to the Royal House of the Netherlands website, King Willem-Alexander succeeded his mother as monarch on April 30, 2013. He is married to Queen Máxima and they have three daughters – Princess Catharina-Amalia, Princess Alexia, and Princess Ariane.

The king earned his private pilot's license in 1985 and his commercial pilot's license two years later. He flew as a volunteer in Kenya, first for the medical aid organization African Medical Research & Education Foundation (AMREF) and then for the Kenya Wildlife Service.

In order to keep his licenses current, he took on the part-time job flying the KLM Cityhopper routes.

While Great Britain's Prince Charles and his sons William and Harry are qualified pilots, the BBC pointed out, none of them are regularly flying around with their subjects.

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Dutch King Willem-Alexander secretly has been an airline pilot for the past two decades, flying commercial passengers incognito for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.
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