Engaged in the association Aviation sans Frontières, the French astronaut Thomas Pesquet, who returned a few months ago from his mission on the international space station, took control of a humanitarian plane this Wednesday, heading for the Central African Republic.
Former Air France pilot, Thomas Pesquet uses his experience in civil aircraft on behalf of this NGO, of which he has been a sponsor since 2019. “I didn’t just want to give my image, or send messages of support, but do something more,” the astronaut said at the pre-flight press conference.
Aviation sans Frontières delivers food and medicine and carries out medical evacuations for 120 NGOs and international organizations. “The plane makes it possible to get rid of the rutted bush tracks and the “road cutters”, bandits who attack motorists in Africa, indicates Jean-Yves Grosse, head of air operations for Aviation sans Frontières.
“It’s not an easy aviation, because there are few means and few infrastructures so you have to manage a lot on your own, but from the pilot’s point of view, it’s an aviation where you learns a lot of things, ”explained Thomas Pesquet in a video shared on his social networks.
The astronaut still needs a few hours of flight to be fully qualified on the association’s plane, a brand new Cessna Grand Caravan. He is therefore not the captain, and must wait a little longer to be able to fully carry out missions in Bangui, in the Central African Republic, or in Bunia, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the two countries where Aviation sans Frontières deploys its planes. . However, he told AFP: “I would love to go out on the pitch, because that’s really where I feel useful.”