Dutch king was guest pilot for 21 years

A KLM Cityhopper Fokker F70 plane lands at Heathrow

A KLM Cityhopper Fokker F70 plane lands at Heathrow

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of The Netherlands.

It's rare for the king to get noticed while co-piloting an aircraft.

The king of the Netherlands regularly flew commercial planes, without his passengers' knowledge, he told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.

"I find flying simply fantastic".

"Most people don't listen anyway", he said, according to the Guardian.

Prince William now flies helicopters for the East Anglian Air Ambulance service while his uncle Prince Andrew flew helicopters for the Royal Navy, seeing active service in the Falklands War.

For King Willem-Alexander, it seems it provides the flawless opportunity to switch off from the day-to-day duties of monarchy and focus on something entirely different. Referring to it as a "hobby" the King said that he has been to the cockpit as a co-pilot of KLM Cityhopper for over two decades.

But it's perhaps less well known the extent of the royal's love of aviation.

He carried out national service in the country's navy and held a military pilot's licence. Prince Harry too flew Apache attack helicopters in Afghanistan with British Army Air Corps.

Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah also reportedly sometimes slips into the cockpit while flying on state visits.

And now, he's being retrained to fly Boeing 737s since the Fokkers are being phased out of service. You have an airplane, passengers and a crew.

Putman, who flies with the king frequently, told the Telegraaf: "When we put on our KLM uniform, I'm in command and the king is the co-pilot". You can not take your problems from the ground with you in the sky. "You can completely switch off for a while and focus on something else", he said, describing flying a jetliner in terms most guys his age reserve for a round of golf. "That, for me, is the most relaxing part of flying", he said.

The airline is now phasing out the smaller Fokker 70 plane used on short-haul flights, a policy which would have made it hard for him to continue flying.

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