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As a kid she posed with her pilot dad in the flight deck. Years later they recreated the photo, with a twist

The first time Jasmijn van Waalwijk van Doorn accompanied her pilot father, Jorrit van Waalwijk van Doorn, to work was a day to remember.

It was 2006. Eight-year-old Jasmijn joined Jorrit on a KLM flight traveling from their home country of the Netherlands to Uganda.

Pilot Jorrit flew the Boeing 767 there and back. Jasmijn and her mother Ellen were passengers. Before the flight to Uganda took off, Ellen took a picture of her husband and daughter in the flight deck.

In the photo, Jorrit’s clutching the controls, Jasmijn is clutching a beloved lion toy. She’s got one arm around her father. Both are smiling widely.

Cut to 2019. Jorrit and Jasmijn once again found themselves in an airplane cockpit together. It was another day to remember. This time round, Jasmijn wasn’t a passenger – she was a qualified KLM pilot, flying alongside her dad for the first time.

When Jasmijn packed her suitcase that morning, she’d made sure to include the beloved lion toy among her belongings. Then, before the flight took off, Jasmijn and Jorrit recreated the photo from over a decade previously.

Once again, Jorrit clutched the controls and Jasmijn clutched the lion toy. Both smiled proudly. The main difference between the photos? The now adult Jasmijn is wearing a KLM pilot uniform. And right after the photo was taken, Jasmijn got behind the controls, ready to fly the Boeing 777 to Hong Kong.

It was Jasmijn’s mother Ellen who suggested her husband and daughter recreate the 2006 photo.

“She said, ‘We have that picture of the two of you in the cockpit. Why not take the toy again, and take the same picture again?’” Jasmijn tells CNN Travel. “I was happy that I still had the toy because it’s so special to have that picture.”

“It started off as a fun thing,” Jorrit tells CNN Travel. “But it was nice to see the two pictures together, then and now.”

Growing up with aviation

The 2006 photo was taken en route to Uganda. Jasmijn remembers being really excited to accompany her dad on a trip. - Jorrit van Waalwijk van Doorn and Jasmijn van Waalwijk van Doorn
The 2006 photo was taken en route to Uganda. Jasmijn remembers being really excited to accompany her dad on a trip. - Jorrit van Waalwijk van Doorn and Jasmijn van Waalwijk van Doorn

The 2006 flight to Uganda was the first of many times young Jasmijn accompanied Jorrit on flights. Jasmijn remembers how exciting it was going on a safari and spotting lions that resembled her beloved cuddly toy. Eight-year-old Jasmijn fell in love with traveling – and then, over time, she fell in love with flying.

“That’s how I got to know the job – and where it started,” says Jasmijn.

When Jasmijn was growing up, Jorrit flew intercontinental flights for KLM. He was often gone for several days. If he could bring Jasmijn and her siblings with him, he would.

“You can invest in your relationship with your kid, and she can see what you’re doing. And then it’s more normal for her,” he says. “We’d always do nice things on routes.”

Jasmijn’s mother Ellen is a flight attendant, so flying for a living was “normal” to Jasmijn growing up.

“It’s not only because of my dad that I’m interested in aviation,” she says.

Jasmijn aspired to be a pilot from an early age. At 12, she had her first flying lesson. Aged 14, she embarked on a gliding course.

By the time she was in high school, Jasmijn was set on her career path.

“That’s when it became serious,” she says today. “I thought, ‘This is my dream, I want to be a pilot.’”

Flying together

The recreated photo was taken on Jorrit and Jasmijn's first trip together. They were flying in a Boeing 777 to Hong Kong. - Jorrit van Waalwijk van Doorn and Jasmijn van Waalwijk van Doorn
The recreated photo was taken on Jorrit and Jasmijn's first trip together. They were flying in a Boeing 777 to Hong Kong. - Jorrit van Waalwijk van Doorn and Jasmijn van Waalwijk van Doorn

Jasmijn trained at the KLM Flight Academy, qualifying in 2018 when she was 20. Since that first flight together in 2019, Jorrit and Jasmijn have flown together many times.

The father daughter pilot duo quickly learned how to segue between familial comfort and professionalism – for example, Jasmijn decided early on that it made sense to call her dad by his first name when they were on the clock together.

Jorrit says flying together was always “very natural”, adding that they’ve got a “nice dynamic.”

Jorrit and Jasmijn take their jobs seriously, but their flights together are always infused with fun. They enjoy finding humor and joy in the air.

As the more junior of the pair, Jasmijn also appreciates the opportunity to learn from Jorrit’s experience and watch him at work, but Jorrit says this education goes both ways.

Jasmijn and Jorrit say they both learn from each other when they fly together. - Jorrit van Waalwijk van Doorn and Jasmijn van Waalwijk van Doorn
Jasmijn and Jorrit say they both learn from each other when they fly together. - Jorrit van Waalwijk van Doorn and Jasmijn van Waalwijk van Doorn

“She’s a new generation pilot,” he says. “The way she looks at things is a little bit different than how I learned to do it.”

Before every flight, airline crew are sent what’s called a crew manifest – a list of who’s going to be working that day’s flight, usually with an accompanying photo. Colleagues often figure out Jasmijn and Jorrit are related thanks to their shared last name, but if they don’t pick up on that, it’s the crew manifest photos which give it away: Jasmijn and Jorrit use a selfie of the two of them, cropped into two individual portraits. They always enjoy seeing who puts two and two together.

And when fellow KLM employees realize they’re related, Jasmijn says they’re always enthuasiastic and excited.

Quality family time

A perk of Jasmijn and Jorrit's job is they get to explore the world together. Here they are pictured at Machu Picchu, Peru. - Jorrit van Waalwijk van Doorn and Jasmijn van Waalwijk van Doorn
A perk of Jasmijn and Jorrit's job is they get to explore the world together. Here they are pictured at Machu Picchu, Peru. - Jorrit van Waalwijk van Doorn and Jasmijn van Waalwijk van Doorn

For Jasmijn and Jorrit, working together also means getting to travel the world together.

Sometimes family members will join them too – last summer, Jorrit and Jasmijn flew Jasmijn’s mother, brother and sister to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for a memorable family vacation.

As Jasmijn, now in her mid-twenties, gets further into adulthood, she says she’s also becoming increasingly conscious that getting to spend quality time with her father is a privilege.

“I’m aware that it’s very, very special to get to go to many places, just the two of you,” she says. “It’s creating a lot of memories.”

“If you have the opportunity to do things like this together, then really just enjoy it as much as you can.”

Aviation remains a male dominated profession, and Jasmijn is grateful for her father’s encouragement she expressed an interest in following in his footsteps. She also hopes the tide is changing and the aviation landscape is becoming more diverse.

“There are more female pilots,” she says. “I like that a lot.”

Jorrit is also keen to encourage anyone – regardless of gender or background – who is passionate about aviation to consider entering the industry.

“When she was 10, telling people she wanted to become a pilot, people looked at her and thought, ‘Wow, how cute,’ or ‘How funny,’” he says. “But if you really want to achieve something, and you go for it, it’s possible.”

Jorrit is now in his mid-50s and approaching compulsory retirement. Right now, he’s also working in a different area of KLM to Jasmijn, so the father daughter pilot team reckon their days flying together are numbered.

“I’m going to miss Jasmijn flying with me. But I’ve got nice memories of flying together, which was really, really special,” he says.

Plus, Jorrit’s retirement won’t spell the end of family adventures. Jasmijn is currently working to become a first officer, which will mean conducting takeoffs and landings herself. This, she says, will create another day to remember.

“One of my dreams is to take my dad on a flight with me so that he can see my landing,” she says.

This article was first published in November 2023 and was updated in March 2024.

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