The First Step: A look at the Pilot Course Tryouts

“Only those who are worthy will stand at the graduation stage” The First Step: A look at the Pilot Course Tryouts

“You need to reach deep inside and find the required energy” The First Step: A look at the Pilot Course Tryouts The First Step: A look at the Pilot Course Tryouts

One of the goals of the tryouts is to see how the candidates function under pressure The tryouts for the IAF Pilot Course are just the first step in a long process that aircrews undergo on their way to earn their wings. Over the course of a week, hundreds of candidates suffer one of the most difficult mental experiences they have ever known, for one goal: to be accepted into the prestigious IAF Pilot Course. IAF Site gives you a rare look at the beginning of the journey that the next generation of aircrew members experience

Noa Fenigstein

One of the best guarded secrets at the flight school is the list of criteria based on which the commanders of the tryouts determine which candidates to accept into the IAF Pilot Course. Unfortunately, the criteria on the list cannot be disclosed in this article, but we can say that the candidates face one of the most difficult mental challenges they have ever known: over the course of a week, without a watch or any belongings, hundreds of candidates have to endure sleep deprivation and uncertainty-and still stand out and prove that they belong in the IAF Pilot Course.

“Arriving at the tryouts was exciting and stressful at once. It was hard to stomach the fact that this is the place where we were going to spend a whole week”, recalls Or, who took part in the tryouts a year ago. “Suddenly, everything we had read and heard about became a reality”. One of the goals of the tryouts is to see how the candidates function under pressure, uncertainty and exhaustion and in so doing, give the candidates a taste of the IAF Pilot course. “You need to reach deep inside and find the required energy. No one says anything nice to you”, explains Lieutenant Colonel Itamar, commander of the tryouts IAF Site visited. “At no point are you permitted to talk with your friends. No cell phones, no change of clothes-not even a tooth brush! You are alone and you not only need to compete and survive but also get results”.

The young commanders of the tryouts, whose influence on the final placements is critical, are young pilots and cadets in the IAF pilot course. “You don’t know if you’ve fallen asleep, if you’re in the middle of a dream, if you’ve slept 15 minutes or two hours”, recalls First Lieutenant N’, a weapon systems operator, who took part as an instructor in the last three tryouts. “Uncertainty characterizes not only the course, but also the world of aviation”.

“Only those who are worthy will stand at the graduation stage”

Since the IAF Pilot course opened up for women, they have completed every track of the course and have integrated in the squadrons of the force. But, how do the people who run the tryouts objectively compare men to women? Is it even possible to do so?

In recent years, the IAF has tried to surround the candidates with a staff of female commanders and female reservists. The girls sit in separate classrooms from the boys. All of this is done with the intention of adding a female perspective during the placement process and to remove the physical considerations from the equation.

“It’s important to mention that the girls undergo the same exact experience as the boys. Only those who are worthy will stand at the graduation stage”, stresses Lieutenant Colonel Itamar. “Yet, the test is not based on a standard that has to be exceeded, but on a certain quality. The mental responses are different for men and women”.

The IAF Pilot course tryouts are the first step and decide the track of the aircrews. “We really invest in the tryouts; everything is done to bring the best people possible to this course. Ultimately, every graduate of the course will have a significant amount of influence on the security of the state”, explains Lieutenant Colonel Itamar.

“The command during the tryouts gives the feeling of influence and a mission”, adds First Lieutenant N’. “Of course, we withdraw from operational environment of the squadron for a week, but for a goal that is no less important”.

 

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