Switching it Up: Simulation Instructors in the Cockpit Switching it Up: Simulation Instructors in the Cockpit Switching it Up: Simulation Instructors in the Cockpit Switching it Up: Simulation Instructors in the Cockpit On a daily basis, they instruct aerial crew members and point out their mistakes. But what happened when simulator instructors stepped into the cockpit and flew the aircraft for themselves? We sent out a pilot to accompany them in this mission, this time as the instructor. A special story for Purim

Mai Efrat and Michal Weissbrod |Photography: Lior Kestner

“It’s mostly very entertaining,” says Corporal Tal Goldberg, a moment before she takes a seat in the pilot’s simulator. She is very familiar with the simulator: Since she was recruited she has conducted dozens of exercises for aerial crew members, new, veteran and reserve duty pilots who have been holding the stick for a while. This time, Tal had to give up on instruction, and put on her helicopter pilot outfit.

It is common knowledge that simulation instructors know their assigned aircrafts like the back of their hands, and in order for Tal to withstand the experiment she got the opportunity to double her power: another Tal, or to be more specific, Sergeant Tal Shitrit, also a Blackhawk instructor. The girls sit down in the cockpit, and try to stretch in order to reach the pedals. They were so comfortable in their instructing position, which is now preformed by First Lieutenant Ofir, an experienced helicopter pilot who has already receive criticism from the girls during a previous session. Now, he is not afraid to shock them with a few obstacles while he gets the chance to operate the control buttons.

“We’ve Just Looped!”

A strong shake in the simulator makes it very clear that we have begun our journey and both girls are startled. Corporal Tal barely has time to announce “We have an electricity emergency!” when Ofir, the pilot turned instructor, comes up with another problem. “I have no idea what I pressed”, he whispers to us. The shaking mounts and Ofir decides to stop the exercise: “I’m letting go, you think that you’d be able to deal with this?”, “No!” the girls shriek, but their plea isn’t answered. After a long wrestle with the stick, and a few tips on behalf of Ofir, they successfully land the Helicopter in peace (in relative terms) and take a deep breath. “He gave us a hard time”.

By the next takeoff, the shock had almost worn off. “Altitude three, East, 100 knots”, demands Ofir and the girls follow. “It’s very surprising how deeply familiar they are with the system”, he states, “even in areas I don’t entirely know. In a way, it’s easier to gain experience by flying than the way they learn it”. Corporal Tal agrees and smiles: “Pilots have their abilities but I have my advantage. I see a variety of people practicing and I think to myself how I would act if I was in their shoes”.

This positive atmosphere begins to bother Ofir and so he adds two more hurdles, just for fun. Warning light bulbs turn on one after the other. “I see that they are doing well and it makes me mad!” he says, “I turn off the engine and they don’t mind, so I press another button. One red light was not enough. I added four more.” In a short while, the pressing ensues and within a quick moment everyone loses their balance. “We’ve just looped!” screams Sergeant Tal. “That’s not nice”, she chides Ofir who has a devious smile on his face. The helicopter crashes. “Maybe they should stay on land”.