Dutch king who secretly piloted KLM flights could have flown passengers between Norwich and Amsterdam
- Credit: AP
The king of the Netherlands has revealed he has been co-piloting passenger flights for commercial airline KLM for the past two decades - and there is a chance he could have flown passengers to and from Norwich International Airport.
For 21 years King Willem-Alexander was a regular guest pilot and took to the skies twice a month to ferry passengers on short-haul services.
He regularly piloted the airline's Cityhopper fleet of Fokker 70 planes which take passengers to and from Norwich.
The fleet of smaller planes are now being phased out by KLM meaning the king will need to retrain and learn to pilot Boeing 737s.
The 50-year-old father and monarch to 17 million Dutch citizens says flying is a 'hobby' that enables him to leave his royal duties on the ground.
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'You have an aircraft, passengers and crew. You have responsibility for them,' he told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf. 'You can't take your problems from the ground into the skies. You can completely disengage and concentrate on something else. That, for me, is the most relaxing part of flying.'
The king said he is rarely recognized by passengers in his uniform, especially since security was tightened on board planes following the September 11 terror attacks in New York.
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'Before September 11, the cockpit door was open. People regularly came to have a look and thought it was nice or surprising that I was sitting there.'
He added that he is also not recognised as he walks through Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport in his full KLM uniform and cap.
The fleet of Fokker 70 planes will fly for the final time on October 27 before they are replaced. Norwich to Amsterdam will one of the routes flown by the aircraft on its final day in service.