It’s hard to imagine how they must feel right now. Three years of nighttime navigating sessions, aviation exams, rough physical training and ongoing mental challenges have come to an end: Graduates of Aviation Course 165 finally received their desirable wings
“You never believe that this moment will actually arrive”, says First Lieutenant Iftach, who has become an official IAF combat pilot only moments ago. “This doesn’t happen to most people. During the course you don’t think about it at all. The only things you think about are your next immediate steps because during the basic stages there is no point of thinking how you would look standing on the graduation ceremony stage “.
Though it might be hard to believe, their moment has finally arrived. After countless tests and challenges, the Graduates of course 165 received their wings and joined the respected lines of the IAF.”I’m well aware of the threats that shadow over the country of Israel and I know that in order to face them we need a strong air force”, said the Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu to the Graduates. “Today, you joined the long arm of Israel’s Defense Forces. In the last few years we have strengthened this arm’s muscle and tendons. Our arm will always thrive for peace, but the ones who threaten us know that our extended arm will protect us”.
Amongst the graduates who received their wings today, you could find a wide range of Israeli characters. Some are religious other aren’t, some are from the countryside and some urban, some are males and some females. “In front of our eyes stand the chosen people of our sons and daughters. We are proud of you”, said Aaron Barak Minister of Defense. “Dear graduates; you have proved that nothing is stronger than will power. You are now a part of the Israel’s strategic arm. We give you or best technological systems but most of our efforts go into you. You have a great responsibility on your shoulders, some would say, your wings”.
A few moments ago the graduates got a reminder of their work’s significance. “Only a few weeks ago, in the midst of your instructional and training sessions, I saw your guides takeoff to operational missions in the Gaza Strip. This is another reminder of the responsibilities which are now placed over your shoulders”, said Commander of the IDF Lieutenant General Benny Gants. “Today you join them, the IAF, which allows us to attack in a powerful, stretchable, and decisive manner. Dear Graduates, our next mission is your next mission”.
This year, the aviation ceremony was held in honor of the Skyhawk’s 45 years of duty to the IAF. All pilots and navigators of the IAF have trained on it for years. The Skyhawk is destined to be replaced by the Italian M-346. “My personal aviation experience started in the Skyhawk’s cockpit”, shared Commander of the IAF Major General Amir Eshel. “While humans and machines were integrating with one another, I learned how to become an aerial fighter, I operated on the Skyhawk during my first war experience, and it’s a good trustworthy workhorse. The Skyhawk’s arrival in Israel announced the bonding of United State’s strategic relationship with Israel. The F-15 and F-16 which arrived later on, or the F-35 which are destined to arrive in Israel are a true expression of the strategic cooperation and the viable relationship between Israel and the United States of America”.
The Skyhawk was only of the aircrafts who participated in the aerial display in honor of the graduates. First Lieutenant Yonatan, who received his wings today, looked up at his brother who flew on the UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter. The more senior T-6 Texan and Stearman also arrived to congratulate the new pilots. The F-15 and F-16 flew across the sky very loudly and combat helicopters demonstrated their impressive targeting abilities as they shot false targets on the ground. The aerobatic team sealed the ceremony and spread their airplane’s white smoke across the sky as the graduated through up their caps and became official IAF pilots.