IAF Firefighters Train for Rescue IAF Firefighters Train for Rescue The firefighting wing of the IAF Ramon Air Base recently built an exact replica simulator of an F-16 plane’s cockpit in order to practice rescuing pilots in case of an accident

Yael Harari

The Ramon firefighting wing recently built and began using a new simulator modeled after a plane’s cockpit. The simulator is used in training for rescue missions once a week.

“At the beginning of each shift, we dress one of the firefighters in full pilot gear, sit him in the simulator and do a rescue exercise”, explained Master Sergeant Shimon Perez, commander of the firefighting station on the IAF Ramon Air Base. “We succeeded in precisely recreating every component of the cockpit and doing all required procedures for the firefighter, from imitating the canopy of the parachute release to loosening the straps on the pilot’s parachute”.

The idea for building the simulator stemmed from a need to practice rescue missions more frequently without using a real F-16 plane during each drill. Warrant Officer David Attias, in charge of instructing all the firefighting activities at the station, was the first to pitch the idea.

Over the past few months, members of the station gathered plane parts in order to build their own complete cockpit.

“The search for spare parts went on for a while, it was very detailed work”, explains Master Sergeant Perez.

“We used different parts of the F-16 that we found on bases and planes that weren’t in use. For example, we used parts from an F-16 which was abandoned during the Second Lebanon War”.

The simulator showcases a situation in which a plane has already landed but communication with the pilot been lost and the pilot is in need of rescue.

“Now we’re much better prepared for any sudden mission or accident that may take place on the track”, said Master Sergeant Perez. “Even firefighters from other departments come here to see the simulator and to train in it themselves”.