The Duckling Run

It’s not every day an aircraft takes off carrying more than 41,000 passengers. Commercial pilot Jean-Philippe Rokacz recounts his experience flying a rather unusual charter.

FROM THE COCKPIT ATR 72-201 EI-SLG

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The crew’s mission was simple - deliver the cargo safe and sound from Nantes to Plovdiv in Southern Bulgaria.
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Captain Jean-Philippe Rokacz poses with one of his 41,000 passengers.
ALL PHOTOS AUTHOR UNLESS STATED

I reach up to the overhead panel and switch off the anti-collision beacon as the whine of the number two engine dies down. It’s 0805hrs on the morning of March 15 and we’ve just arrived on stand 20 at Nantes-Atlantique Airport. According to our paperwork, the first leg of our trip – a short hop from Paris/ Charles de Gaulle – took 1hr 20mins (block time – from push-back to arriving on stand), including 1hr 5mins in the air. Flying duties for this leg fell to First Officer Thierry Gruffaz, who is very familiar with the airfield at Nantes having operated here with his previous company Air Méditerranée.

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