They focused on values such as operational planning, building concepts for aerial missions, combat tactics and flying over breathtaking views
“They are thirsty for operational experience”
Familiar surroundings were replaced by green expanses
The combat pilots traveled to the Far East Two IAF pilots journeyed to the Far East to instruct and exercise with pilots of the Royal Thai Air Force. They discovered a fascinating culture, a different style of flying and the occasional barefoot stroll on the runway
Lilach Gonen and Shir Golan
In Israel, the colors you observe from the cockpit are usually of a desert palette: yellow and earthy brown. Only 12 hours away from here, the colors change and peering from above you would see green expanses and flowing rivers. Major Ziv, deputy commander of the “Bat” squadron and Major Ido, commander of the Sorting Division of the Flight Academy, are blown away by the view. In a rare opportunity, they headed out on a journey to the Far East to lead a special seminar for the Royal Thai Air Force. For a several weeks, they instructed the foreign pilots and got to step in another’s flight suit for a while.
The seminar, during which IAF Aerial teams instruct Thailand’s pilots, has existed for years. Head of the operations department of the Royal Thai Air Force is, in fact, a graduate of the first seminar. They focused on values such as operational planning, building concepts for aerial missions, combat tactics and flying over breathtaking views while strengthening the bond between the two forces.
“I shared my experiences from operation ‘Cast Lead’”
7000 kilometers of ocean and land aren’t the only things separating the Royal Thai Air Force from the IAF. For example, a Thai technician walks barefoot on the landing strip, surely never imagining that such a thing is strictly forbidden over at IAF airbases. “Basically, they treat the word “operational” in a different manner than we do”, explains Major Ido. “They don’t even have an ‘alert’ code; it’s very strange for Israeli Pilots”.
The seminar held by the Israeli combat pilots was filled with theoretical content, combat doctrine and legacy alongside practical information and aviation training sessions in various layouts. “I shared my experience from operation “Cast Lead” with them”, says major Ido, “I told them about that moment when the bomb was on its way down. They are thirsty for operational experience.”
“I was never taught to fly this way”
The Israeli pilots got to experience all flights from the back seat, with an instructor’s point of view. “It’s clearly not my cadet from the Flight Academy”, explains Major Ziv. “On the one hand, they are trained pilots. But on the other, we lack communication. Here, I get to instruct someone from a different background and language”. Despite the language barriers, Ido and Ziv were able to form a close bond with the Thai Aerial crew. “Thanks to the professional cooperation, they learned a lot and got to experience many new things”, says Major Ziv. “I showed one of the pilots a basic exercise that would be used in an air to air combat scenario, and already during the next flight I saw him implement what he had learned–he had definitely learned”.
“Towards the end of the seminar, one of the guys came up to me and said “Just so you know, I was never taught to fly, to examine things or to be open this way while flying”, says Major Ido, “Even on the professional level, I was thrilled that I could impact a complete stranger”.