Flying in Darkness

“It’s a Completely Different Experience to Fly at Night” Flying in Darkness

The F-16I Planes Took Off One After Another Flying in Darkness

Preparing for a Moonlit Escapade The pilots of the IAF are used the flying under any and all circumstances, even in the late night hours. The F-16I squadrons of the IAF embarked on a week of moonlit training, bravely combating a new enemy: darkness

Shir Golan

Darkness fell over Ramon Airbase. The sky was pitch black and only source of light came from the moon. “Take one look outside the window”, describes Captain Alon, an F-16 Pilot, “You can see the unique view of the southern cliffs, mountains and rivers. An easy, a relaxed sensation roams the air. It’s an entirely different experience to fly at night. Nights are mesmerizing”.

For an entire week, the F-16I Squadrons of Ramon Airbase made a drastic change in their schedules: They woke up at noon, went to an evening briefing and took off into the darkness and late hours of the night. Just like every other training session, this week opened with a briefing.”Good night everyone”, said First Lieutenant Tom, the Squadrons security officer. “As you all know, today were going to practice night aviation. Tonight is uniquely bright thanks to the moon”, he encourages the aerial crew yet doesn’t make it easy for any of them. He explains what they should look out for.

“Every squadron in the combat formation has a main focal point. We are experts in night flying, for example”, says Commander of the ‘Negev’ Squadron, Lieutenant Colonel Amir. “We examine it from an operational perspective and training. This week we practiced flying in a low altitude, simulated attacks with different sorts of ammunition, aerial refueling at night and using various radar systems”.

The night brings new challenges that the Force’s pilots have to face. “Night takeoffs aren’t natural”, explains Lieutenant Colonel Amir. “At nighttime, a new dimension is added: darkness. Things that look ordinary to us during day light seem different at night. For example, you can’t respond to your surroundings in the best way, since your vision is impaired. That’s the reason you have to know the area and prepare your flight before you takeoff”.