VIDEO INTERVIEW | Venko Bikovski, pilot and captain of the Boeing 737: Life above the clouds and separation

Venko Bikovski, pilot and captain of Boeing 737/Photo: Sloboden Pechat/Dragan Mitreski

There are unusual professions and challenges that we seem to know everything about, but is that so? The reason for the conversation between our journalist Ana Trifunovski within "Utrinski Pechat", with the pilot Venko Bikovski - the captain instructor of the Boeing 737 series from 300 to 900 (yes, you read that right, authorized to fly and train pilots of seven types of Boeing) is the flight on the oldest Boeing 737-300 series in Europe, and from the fleet of former JAT, now Air Serbia, on the route from Belgrade to Tientsin - China.

For today - nothing unusual, you would say, but when it comes to a 38-year-old aircraft at the end of its working life and which for the last 3 years was parked in a hangar, unused, that in itself represents a pilot challenge. Not every pilot had the opportunity to quietly fight and fight with his bird like this particular one - which "refused" to leave its home, Belgrade airport for the last time - "justifying" it with various technical cancellations before takeoff. More experienced pilots say that the plane also has a soul and a memory; when you imagine that hundreds of thousands of passengers crossed the threshold of the entrance-exit door of that plane, bringing with them their life stories, joys and sorrows, successes, failures, such a flow of energy must leave some trace.

It is about the Boeing 737 aircraft with the home registration marks YU ANI, which, among other airline companies in the world, has been safely serving "Macedonian Air Transport", under the registration marks Z3 AAA, for almost a decade flawlessly, in transporting its passengers to and from Macedonia to European and Middle Eastern destinations.

After removing the defects of the Boeing 737-300 – YU ANI, under the leadership of Captain Bikovski, the plane safely departed from Belgrade and continued its final journey to China, with stopovers in Tbilisi and Alma Ata, for refueling. The Boeing, on a so-called "technical flight", was friendly to its longtime captain until landing in Tientsin; he carried out every command as it should, without causing unnecessary sweating and stress to the crew. Old friends are about to part in the manner in which their mutual story began 38 years ago; with respect and infinite trust towards each other. If you use the aircraft carefully and with care, respecting the laws of physics and the manufacturer's recommendations, it will unquestioningly follow your every command, returning you with predictability and, above all, safety. That was the case this time as well.

Of course, in the execution of this atypical operation, Captain Bikovski's flying experience of approximately 24000 hours of flying and working on five continents, in over twelve different airlines in the world, including JAT, MAT, Tunis air, Anset (Australia), was of great help. Oman air, AIR INDIA, Nouvelle air – Tunis, AIR SERBIA, etc.

If we add the data that says that the legal imperative of the American aviation authorities (FAA) - as a prerequisite to be a pilot, stipulates, quote - "...the candidate must be a person of good moral character" (FAA regulation - 14 CFR 61.153(c)), you conclude that this profession and human-machine interaction require more than just technical knowledge and good health. One of the few professions in the world that legally requires something more than your average character to prove.

Coincidentally (although many philosophies prefer that coincidence does not exist), both Captain Bikowski and his obedient plane simultaneously depart for their well-deserved flying retirement, but their story does not end there; The Boeing will be part of the school center in Tientsin - China, while Captain Bikovski will continue to pass on his knowledge as an instructor to the younger generations of pilots, unfortunately - not in our country, because from a former leader in air traffic in the Balkans, we have been reduced to one nothing big.

We wish peaceful skies to the actors of this interesting aviation story.

The second part of the conversation with Venko Bikovski will be broadcast on the show "Morning Press" on June 7, 2023

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