Have You Ever Flown With A King Piloting The Plane? Maybe You Did – On KLM!


Dutch King Willem Alexander revealed in an interview this week that on occasion he flew KLM Fokker 70 aircraft anonymously as a qualified Co-Pilot as a ‘hobby on the side’.

The King is now retraining to fly Boeing 737 aircraft for the company as the Fokkers are gradually phased out of the fleet.

There are a couple well known people who pilot jets such as Richard Branson or John Travolta but that a King does this in regular scheduled service is really interesting.

You can read more about this at The Guardian (access here).

The Dutch king has revealed that for more than two decades he has, alongside his royal duties, held down a part-time second job.

In a newspaper interview published on Wednesday, King Willem-Alexander said that he recently ended his role as a regular “guest pilot” after 21 years on KLM’s fleet of Fokker 70 planes and before that on Dutch carrier Martinair.

As a guest flier, the king worked about twice a month, always as co-pilot. He will now retrain to fly Boeing 737s as the Fokkers are being phased out of service. The 50-year-old father of three and monarch to 17 million Dutch citizens calls flying a “hobby” that lets him leave his royal duties on the ground and fully focus on something else. …

Willem-Alexander said he is rarely recognised by passengers, especially since security was tightened on board planes in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

Actually the new King of Thailand is also known for piloting his own jets even though while I don’t doubt that King Willem Alexander undergoes the required training and certification I’m not so sure about his counterpart.


Simple essence of the matter: It’s good to be King!

Not many people have the privilege to say ‘I feel a bit bored, let’s fly a passenger plane as a side gig’ unless they either own an airline such as Sir Richard Branson or have significant influence such as a Monarch even in modern times (at least in certain countries).

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  • Stefan_In_Vienna

    King Willem-.Alexander has been a military pilot since the mid-nineties and has held a private pilots licence for more than 30 years. It’s been known for years that he does the necessary hours to keep his licence current on either Cityhopper flights or flying the government plane.

    • Lizzy Travels

      I find the translation of the article from Dutch to English appalling. I have seen the same thing in several media outlets now ( all using the same translation). Yes, it’s “hobby” but it’s not something he takes lightly. And even if it’s nowhere near the flying hours other commercial pilots do, he has flown two day a month, every month for the last 21 years, next to his full time job, were he does, among other things,hundreds of public appearances a year. He’s not wasting his time play an expensive sport or using tax payers money to any of this. The pilots he flies with all speak very highly of him. They say he’s very good at being up to date on all his operating standards etc, which shows he does the work that comes with it, not just the “fun part”. Is he lucky he can do this? Yes, but he’s not the only one. The term “guest flyer” is one used by KLM for the King and several others who do exactly this.

  • Roger Wilco

    Don’t forget that the “K” in KLM stand for “Royal” (Koninklijke) 😉