“Not every light transport pilot can become a heavy transport pilot”
At the end of their training in the ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) squadrons, many light transport pilots convert to heavy transport. A sneak peek at the transition
You might be surprised to know that most of the Hercules C-130 heavy lifter pilots were once light airplanes pilots. After graduating from IAF’s pilot course, a transport pilot training journey begins in Sde-Dov Airbase, where he pilots relatively easy-to-operate aircraft for ISR missions. Only after gaining enough experience will the pilot undergo heavy transport training and start operating a more advanced aircraft in Nevatim Airbase.
As mentioned, the pilots graduating as transport pilots arrive at Sde-Dov Airbase where they begin operation training course in the “Aerial Kings” squadron and are eventually certified as operational co-pilots.
The pilots then begin their progress toward the ultimate goal, which is flying advanced heavy lifters.
“Our aspiration is that most pilots would progress to advanced airplane”, says Lt. Col. Alon, who was until recently the commander of “Aerial Kings” squadron. “The pilots sent for multi-engine training are not necessarily the best pilots in the squadron, but rather those who have the greatest motivation and desire to succeed. Multi-engine training requires maturity because the pilot knows that he is expecting an even more intensive training at the heavy transport squadron”.
“The transition is usually natural”
There are certain attributes required from a heavy transport pilot. “The ultimate goal is success”, determines Lt. Col. Alon who started as an attack helicopter pilot and moved to the transport division. “It consists of several parameters: a good flying level, the ability to integrate into a squadron s and the ability to take decisions as captain”.
“The commanders adopt both professional and personal approaches when examining the pilots, because here they start training with a new plane that has much more complex systems then those of the light airplanes”, says Lihu Hacohen, Commander of Nevatim Airbase which absorbs many pilots every year.
So does every “Beechcraft King Air” pilot can become a “Hercules” pilot?
“Not every light transport pilot can become a heavy transport pilot”, answers Lt. Col. Alon. “Some pilots begin the advanced training, fail and return to the double-engine squadron. It happens. The advanced aircraft include many sophisticated systems that are not easy to understand and demand hours of intensive learning. Even so, the transition is usually natural for the pilots”.