On Your Own: A pilot’s first attacking experience On Your Own: A pilot’s first attacking experience Years of practicing, exercising and listening to heroic stories can’t properly prepare aerial team members for the moment they’ll have to release a bomb for the first time. First Lieutenant David, a pilot in the “First Jet” Squadron in Ramat David Airbase , shares his story

Michal Khayut

The advanced simulators of the IAF know how to demonstrate many different scenarios: cooperation between aircrafts, sudden artillery attack of an airplane and extreme weather. But even the most advanced simulator can’t express the feeling that comes with switching the ammunition button from an exercise mode to armed mode. “Until that point, you only relay on stories you’ve heard from veteran pilots or read in books,” shares first Lieutenant David who attacked for the first time during Operation Pillar of Defense. “After the operation, when I had time to process what happened I realized that now I know what attacking targets looks, feels and sounds like”.

Only a few weeks before the operation began, First Lieutenant David was qualified to flyover the area that was operated on during the attack. During the first day of the mission a decision was made, that pilots who were recently qualified will participate in attacking Gaza. “I suddenly realized what I was going to do”, he says. “I prepared myself for this takeoff as fast as I could. I went over all the information I needed to know because I wanted to do it flawlessly. There was no place for mistakes”.

Nightly Attack
In a late night hour, during Operation Pillar of Defense, First Lieutenant David’s structure team hurried towards the F-16 airplanes that were already armed and waiting in the underground hangers. When they headed out towards the runway First Lieutenant David looked at the structure leader’s airplane and noticed a dangerous gas leak. He immediately notified the proper officials. The structure’s leader stopped and turned back towards the formation’s area. In the meantime another pilot replaced him. “There was no time. At that point everything happened really quickly because we had to take off on time”, remembers First Lieutenant David. “Then came the moment I had to press the discharge button. I waited to see that the bombs were released and it seemed like forever. The airplane shook a bit and then I released another bomb. Just as I dropped the ammunition I saw a launch towards Ashdod or Ashkelon. That’s when I realized how important my job is”.