Pandemic challenge: Norwegian Captain rejoins Dutch Air Force

Franck de Groot

“I was the happiest guy in the world. Working with the finest people, flying to great destinations in the US and then the COVID-19 struck…” says Captain Franck de Groot. The highly experienced pilot writes about his career, experiences during the pandemic, and what one best thing he has done to get back to aviation.

By Franck de Groot

As a small boy, I always wanted to fly planes. After being an Air Force police officer and doing my higher level of education I applied to become an Air Force pilot. Out of 8500 applicants, I was one of the 64 lucky ones that got the spot at the Military Academy and became an AH64D Apache pilot.

After 3 tours to Afghanistan and 21 years in the service, I decided to leave and try the civilian side. I flew the Boeing 737NG with Transavia and after 5 years I went to Dubai where I flew the mighty Boeing 777 for Emirates. 

Again, after almost 5 years I got the chance to fly the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and transferred to Norwegian. Two years later, I got my upgrade to Commander and I was the happiest guy in the world. Working with the finest people, flying to great destinations in the US and then the COVID-19 struck…. 

Franck de Groot

We were put on furlough from the beginning. Because this was a big cut in salary, I had to react fast. Luckily, I’m also a reserve officer with the Air Force, so there were a lot of opportunities to make some money there as an instructor at the ATC school and Survival school.

Franck de Groot

Also, a buddy of mine has two restaurants, so I was hired as a pancake Chef in one of the kitchens. But these were also closed due to the pandemic. 

Franck de Groot

In October I had to sell my dream car, so we could stay in the house we live in. At this moment I have a 4-month- contract with the Air Force till the end of April as an Exercise Planner for the Hercules squadron. By the end of March 2021, I’ll get my type rating back on the Boeing 737NG to make me more interesting on the market. 

Despite all the setbacks, I still have the positive mindset that we will get back in our beloved flight deck. And maybe we get a better spot than we had before. 

The world always adapts and after each cloud, the sun is shining brightly! 

My favorite quote comes from Sir Winston Churchill: “Never let a good crisis go to waste”.

This article was written and submitted in early March 2021.

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