Head in the clouds: Dutch king was guest pilot for 21 years

Prince Philipfamously gave up a promising naval career to be at the Queen's side - but the Dutch King Willem-Alexander has carried on co-piloting KLM passenger planes as often as twice a month.

Twice a month the king has flown passengers on regular commercial flights, most of whom have no idea who is co-pilot on their flight. As the Fokkers are now going out of service, the King will now retrain to fly Boeing 737s to continue flying with KLM.

The king first learned to fly after finishing highschool in Wales in 1985 and has all his professional papers.

"I find flying simply fantastic", he told the newspaper, describing his monthly flights as a "hobby which requires complete concentration".

"Before September 11, the cockpit door was open", he said, adding how people regularly came to have a look and thought it was nice or surprising that I was sitting there", he said.

The King said his voice was rarely recognised and he was only occasionally identified while passing through the airport.

He told De Telegraaf "that, for me, is the most relaxing part of flying". 'So I don't have to say my name.

The 50-year-old became king in 2013, after his mother, Queen Beatrix, abdicated, at the age of 75. "You have a plane, passengers and crew and you are responsible for them". "You can't take your day-to-day problems with you into the air".

The crowds, many of them wearing orange hats and other clothes, gathered in Dam Square outside the palace from early on Tuesday to see King Willem-Alexander take the Dutch throne. You can completely switch off and focus on something else.

Dutch television NOS interviewed several stewardess who had flown with their king in the late 1990s. According to the BBC, he had previously revealed it was his dream to fly a large passenger jet, something he will now get to do if he successfully trains on the 737. He served in the Royal Netherlands navy and air forces and has been a "guest pilot" in the past for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.

  • Zachary Reyes