Three intensive years of uncertainty have come to an end: the graduates of Flight Academy 174 stood on the parade grounds in Hatzerim AFB, received their flight wings and joined the ranks of the IAF aircrew members

Illy Pe’ery

Officially aircrew members: the graduates of flight course 174 stood today for the last time on the parade grounds and received their flight wings in a ceremony that took place before Israel’s president, Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, and IAF Commander, Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel.

“The best for flight: You aren’t only the best because of your technical and flight abilities – but also because of your values, because of your love for your country and your love for others”, said Israel’s president. “You are our qualitative advantage! You are the IAF’s beating heart and the wind under its wings. There is no room for doubt: the IAF is among the best in the world, and you are the best for flight”.

 

Flight Course 174 Received Their Wings

Photo by: Celia Garion

“Graduates, from now on, you will stand on the front lines, assuring Israel’s security. On your broad shoulders and on the wings of the aircraft you will fly lies the responsibility of the country’s destiny”, said Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot added, “Today, you, the graduates, become commanders in the IDF and IAF. The citizens of Israel look up to you and put their trust in you. You are our pride and the source of our strength”.

“You, our graduates, are the new generation in a long line of aerial defenders of our land. You were chosen from thousands. Your willingness to take responsibility is worthy of praise. Your success will require excellent flight abilities, courage, uncompromising self-critique, judgment and values”, added IAF Commander Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel.

Flight Course 174 Received Their Wings

Photo by: Celia Garion

 On the same track
This year’s Graduation Ceremony was held in honor of the “Six Day” War 50 year anniversary. The war which established the IAF’s and IDF’s status, continues to provide conclusions and insights to this day, in 2017. “The IAF established itself as Israel’s decisiveness and deterrence force”, stated Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel. “In Operation “Focus” (Moked) the IAF exhibited groundbreaking thinking, meticulous planning, peak readiness, courage and valor. We paid a heavy price in bloodshed, the memory of our heroes will stay eternal. We are continuing on the track that began 50 years ago”.

As in every graduation ceremony, an extraordinary aerial demonstration was performed in honor of the new aircrew members. The “Barak” (F-16C/D) and “Ra’am” (F-15I) demonstrated aerial combat and aerial strikes. The “Re’em” (Boeing 707) conducted an aerial refueling, the “Yasu’r” (CH-53) helicopters simulated a rescue mission. Later, the “Lavi” (M-346) instruction aircraft flew in formation. Later, the “Adir” (F-35I) surprised the excited audience in its second performance in a graduation ceremony, and the Flight Academy instructors performed aerobatic exercises in the “Eforni” (Texan T-6 II), in which the graduates flew throughout the first stage of the course.

Flight Course 174 Received Their Wings

Photo by: Celia Garion

Thank You
This is the last Wings Ceremony for IAF Commander Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, who will finish his service in August, having served as IAF Commander for the past five years. Maj. Gen. Eshel himself stood on the same parade ground 38 years ago and received his wings after completing his training at the IAF Flight Academy. “Amir, this is an opportunity for me to express my great appreciation for commanding the force in a brave, smart, creative, determined, uplifting and forward thinking manner”, said Lt. Gen. Eizenkot. “In the final weeks of your service, the Middle East may undergo many changes. However, I am certain that thanks to your great contribution, we can maintain the IDF’s superiority and ensure Israel’s security”.

Flight Course 174 Received Their Wings

Photo by: Celia Garion

 

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