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I always thought Royal Dutch Airlines was just a snazzy name for the flag carrier of the Netherlands. It turns out that the name isn’t too far from the truth! Dutch King Willem-Alexander revealed that he has held down a part-time job as a “guest pilot” for KLM for 21 years, truly putting the “royal” in Royal Dutch Airlines.

You’d think that one’s kingly duties would demand the bulk of your time. Managing a country and all that stuff. But King Willem-Alexander managed to make time for moonlighting. He says flying is a “hobby” and is something that lets his disengage from his royal duties for a while, even calling the pursuit “relaxing”.

Will we see King Willem-Alexander in the skies again?

It hasn’t exactly been a closely guarded secret that the Dutch King has been a pilot all these years. But the king says that it is rare for passengers to recognize him. Even as he walks through Amsterdam airport, he is hardly noticed. Even when the captain of the aircraft lets him give announcements, he says people hardly notice.

If you’re hoping to see the King of the Netherlands on a future trip, you’re in luck. While the Dutch King has stepped down from flying, he is not planning to remain on the ground forever. Willem-Alexander is actually retraining to become a 737 pilot, as the Fokker 70 aircraft are being phased out of service. I’m sure he’ll be flying another European shorthaul soon enough.

My wife and I flew KLM from Amsterdam to Nice, France during our trip to Europe last summer. Unfortunately, there is no way King Willem-Alexander would have been piloting our aircraft, we were aboard a 737. Maybe next time we’ll have a chance to meet the king of the Netherlands!

Featured image courtesy of Frankie Leon under CC 2.0 license

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