Music in the Cockpit

“Flying and playing music both fill me with adrenaline” Music in the Cockpit

Captain Alon, a helicopter pilot, has been playing the guitar since his school days Music in the Cockpit

IAF airbases are filled with musicians Many aircrew members have a great passion outside of flying–music. Between briefings and practice flights, communicators make way for a microphone, and the cockpit is replaced by a stage

Shir Golan

For many people, music is as important as air to breathe, a way to release stress and a tool for self-expression. In combat planes and helicopters too, you may find air crew members who write, sing, play an instrument and compose.

“I’ve been playing the guitar for 20 years”, says Major Yaniv, a transport pilot. “At the moment it’s not yet professional, but I want to develop to the highest level, that’s why I’m now studying at the Music Academy in Jerusalem”, he says. “I think there are similarities between being a musician and being a pilot–they both require intensive work and good technique. In addition, the two worlds have that element of uncertainty. Both improvisation in jazz and surprising situations when flying, for example, put you up to a challenge: dealing with new scenarios in real-time, based on the capabilities that you’ve developed”.

Alon, a combat helicopter pilot, played the guitar as a high-school student and even performed at various locations around the country. When he enlisted in the Pilot Training Course, his guitar came with him. The little free time he had during the academic year of the course was spent strumming for friends and performing at events at the airbase. “Pilots and musicians share the same characteristics. Everyone has an endless thirst to persevere, improve and learn”, he agrees with Major Yaniv.

“As a musician, you’re always hungry for more knowledge, more technique. In flying as well, there are always more things that you can become more professional at, in rules, flying, weaponry systems. On the stage there’s a sense of experience and self-fulfillment, and in the helicopter there is a sense of responsibility and commitment to the mission–each of those feelings, in their own way, fills me with adrenaline”.