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The Cadets in Masada The cadet delegation visiting Israel throughout the past two weeks has reached the end of its visit, and its members will return to their homes with innumerous experiences from their visit with the Israeli Air Force

The annual cadet delegation of the International Air Cadet Exchange Association left Israel this week, after two weeks of treks across the country and visits to Israeli Air Force bases. The delegation included 19 cadets from seven countries (The U.S, France, England, Canada, Holland, Hong Kong, and Germany) and arrived at Israel while Israeli flight crew members went on similar delegations around the world.

“My favorite part was climbing Masada”, confides Nathan Hassan, an 18-year-old cadet from the U.S. “I also really enjoyed visiting the bases. I recognized most of the planes presented to us, but the F-16I (“Sufa”) plane impressed me immensely, it’s entirely different from the F-16 I’m familiar with”. Other cadets agreed that climbing Masada was the most impressive part of the visit. “The sunrise over Masada was incredible. We had to wake up really early, but it was worth it”, exclaims Edwin Ploch of Holland, who is studying aerospace engineering.

During their visit, the cadets were hosted by Israeli families, who made sure to welcome them warmly into their homes. “Two days before they arrived, my daughter was drafted to the army, so one of mine left and another immediately came to replaced her”, jokes Yael, a Ra’anana resident who hosted a Canadian cadet. “We had a great time hosting her. I hope she comes again next year”, adds her son, who probably most enjoyed the fun pastimes in his summer vacation.

“The family that hosted me was very kind, they have a very sweet and funny daughter”, says Phoy-Shuan Adko, a cadet from Hong Kong. “The people here are so nice, I made so many friends from all kinds of different countries and it was a positive experience”. The general consensus amongst the cadets is that Israel is a beautiful country with nice people, but that it’s much too hot here. “I was surprised by the amount of greenery I saw, I thought that Israel was a lot drier”, exclaims Edwin, who later adds, to the agreement of his friends, that from the north to the south-every place is equally hot.

Aside from climbing Masada, the cadets also visited the Old City of Jerusalem, Yad Va’Shem Holocaust Memorial museum, hiking trails in Ramat Ha’Golan, a kibbutz, a winery, and the Bahaian Gardens in Haifa. They took a quick trip to Eilat where they visited the Dolphin Reef, met with the Mayor and even visited the Air Force’s “Uvda” base, at which they toured the Officers’ Training School and the “Flying Dragon” squadron. Despite their busy schedule, the cadets found time to sample the swimming pools at “Nevatim”, “Hatzerim”, and “Ramat David” bases.

Ambassadors in Two Weeks Time

“Israel has been a part of the cadet exchange program since 1955”, says Lieutenant Colonel (reserve) Yinon Bar-Shilton, head of the exchange program in the IAF. “The project began in 1945 in an exchange between the British and the Canadian, and gradually additional countries joined. Throughout the years the project was institutionalized with the creation of the International Air Cadet Exchange Association, of which we’ve always been dignified members”.

The goal of the organization is to create good-will connections among youngsters from different countries, who all have a mutual love for the aviation world. “The cadets gain much knowledge from the program and in two weeks time we have ambassadors” Lieutenant Colonel Bar-Shilton says proudly. “These young people will mature in their own countries, and may reach key positions one day”.

In honor of the end of the project, a ceremonious dinner for the cadets and their host families was held at the Air Force House, in Herzlia. “I hope your experience was meaningful and that you were able to view Israel differently than its portrayal in the international media”, said Brigadier General Ilan Boger, head of the Human Resources in the IAF, to the cadets before dinner. “I wish you a safe trip home and sincerely hope you enjoyed your visit”.


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