The triathlon, a transport competition held by the IAF every year, challenges different IAF squadrons with tasks from the field of air transport. Under intense pressure and with a full schedule, the teams competed for first place
Shani Poms and Shir Golan
Last week, the runway was converted into a racetrack for the day: The triathlon competition was launched, and pushed the squadrons to the edge of their limits. The squadrons left straight from the airbases in Sde Dov and Nivitim to compete in the navigation and target detection competitions-all under intense pressure and with a full schedule. “Unlike combat formations, the wide variety of missions of the transport formation and the big difference the airplanes make it difficult to design a fair challenge”, explains Captain Y’, head of the Transport Air Division. “The teams must demonstrate professionalism and flying skills: complete control of the airplane while performing the task at the right place and time”.
The missions the planes carry out every day vary: From humanitarian assistance to far away countries and airdropping combat soldiers to collecting intelligence. The organizers of the triathlon must come up with missions that will suit both the giant Boeing 707 planes and the small Beechcraft King Air planes. Consequently, the pilots must leave their comfort zone in order to qualify for first place. “Although the Gulfstream V jets were built for flights at an altitude of 40,000 feet, primarily for intelligence gathering missions, aerial command and control, the pilots also know how to fly the jets at a low altitude”, explains Lieutenant Colonel A’, Commander of the “Knights of the Orange Tail” squadron.
The “Elephant” squadron from Nevitim, for the second year in a row, won first place.”The advantages of the Hercules jet were reflected in its tactical flight capabilities. It has a higher carrying capacity in the trunk and a large flight range. All these factors allow it to perform a wide range of tasks”, says Major S’, Commander of Division Operations in the “Yellow Bird” squadron, which also operates Hercules jets.