Drink half a cup of coffee before a flight, and leave the other half for after the flight. Yaakov Turner
On Thursday, the cadets will stand on the graduation stage. What advice do veteran pilots have for the graduates? On Thursday, the cadets of Pilot Course 167 will instantly go from being cadets to being real fighter pilots. Just a moment before the graduation, IAF Site looked around for the best expert advice to give the new pilots. What advice has served Yaakov Turner well since the War of Attrition? What advice does this most senior-ranking pilot in the force have?
At the end of this week, the cadets from Pilot Course 167 will mark the end of the pilot course at the traditional graduation ceremony. The graduates have indeed worked hard over the past three years to become fighter pilots, but the graduation ceremony is just the opening salvo on a long path facing them. A moment before they are awarded their pilot wings, pilots in the force, both veteran and novice, have a few tips for the new graduates just before the beginning of their military service.
The first person to advise the graduates is the most senior pilot in the force: Commander of the IAF, Major Genera Amir Eshel, who stood on the graduation stage in 1979. Immediately upon the completion of the course, he started his career as a fighter pilot on the “Skyhawk” plane, and later he commanded several fighter squadrons and bases in the force. In 2012, he was charged with the task of commanding the air force. The IAF Commander’s tip to the new graduates is actually not related to the world of aviation: he does not advise them on aerial combat or how to stop maneuvering. “Knowledge, knowledge, knowledge”, he says. “Keep learning, deepen (your knowledge), and learn (more)”. Knowledge, in his eye, is the basis of our power, our superior advantage and an inseparable part of the force’s operational readiness.
Brigadier General (res.) Yaakov Turner is a veteran fighter pilot and founder of the IAF Museum in Hatzerim. Formerly, Turner commanded the Hatzerim airbase in which the pilot course is located. “When I was Squadron Commander during the War of Attrition, I had a lot of operational flights. I used to drink coffee before going out to each flight, but I always left half of the drink to drink afterwards”, he recalls. “I hope the new pilots will not take part in a war, but if so, I would recommend that they adopt the practice, that way they will have to come back healthy to finish the coffee.”
The day the graduates finish, they will start their operational training, which will last between several months and several years, depending on the flight division they join. First Lieutenants Gal and Etay, who recently finished their operational training in the “Defenders of the South” squadron, advise the graduates based on their recent experiences. “The pilot wings (at the graduation) are just the beginning, you have to give another 100%. They should know how to overcome failures and how to continue looking forward”, they recommend. “It is important to keep your friends close. When you have supportive friends, it strengthens (you) over and over”.
The last person to give advice is the person who has watched the graduates from the moment they entered the pilot course, three years ago. Colonel Shaul, Commander of the Flight School, saw them grow up and he will also see them on Thursday spread their wings. “I recommend that they be proud and stay humble”, says Colonel Shaul. “Continue looking for the next challenges to meet”.