Even the most experienced veteran pilots of the IAF once took off on their first flight. Every one of them remembers the moment: climbing into the cockpit, gripping the stick to the sound of the whirling engines, and taking off with this extraordinary machine

Lilach Gonen

The Jewish New Year is a holiday that is all about new beginnings and first times. Like in anything else, flying also consists of firsts: Even the most veteran IAF pilot started this way: An excited pilot cadet who climbed into the cockpit, heard the whirl of the engines and took off. “I was very nervous, but not afraid. I really wanted to succeed”, remembers Lieutenant Colonel Matan, who went from cadet to commander of a combat squadron. “I was sharp and very prepared, and throughout the flight I vomited quite a bit. I was mainly happy to be done with it”.

This first time occurs in the beginning of the Pilot Training Course, during the first examination flights-the “checks”. This is only a first test flight of the many that the cadets will need to pass throughout the course. “I was a little afraid before”, confesses First Lieutenant Y’, a pilot of the First Jet squadron. “Not of the danger, because I knew there would be an instructor behind me, but mainly because it’s an exam and the whole situation is a little stressful. The truth is that every time you fly a plane for the first time, it’s different. Suddenly all the noises are different from what you’re used to, your responses are different”.

During this Jewish New Year, hundreds of young cadets will take off on their first flight. With quivering hands they will sit in the cockpit, and take off to the skies. The IAF wishes them, all of Israel and our friends abroad a year of successes and of reaching new heights!