The Transport division’s Advanced Training Course, which is led by the “Kings of the Air” Squadron in Sde-Dov AFB, came to an end last week. “You need to understand that you are an aircrew member now, no longer a cadet. The sorting process is over and we are here to be the best we can be in our mission”
Eliyah Levitan | Translation: Ohad Zeltzer Zubida
The four month long Advanced Training Course has reached its end and now, two cadets sit in the “Zofit” (Beechcraft King-Air B-200) with the Commander of Nevatim AFB behind them, testing their new skills attentively.
Now they must take off, simulate executing a mission and deal with any malfunction, challenge or danger that might come up. Now, they have to prove that they are worthy of joining the ranks of IAF pilots.
“The concluding flights are performed with senior commanders from the division, AFB and squadron commanders”, explained Maj. Lee, the Advanced Training Course Commander. “Two things happen in these flights. On the one hand the cadets show the level they are at, perform everything they learned in the course and demonstrate the required abilities. On the other hand, I, as the course commander, introduce the next generation of pilots to join the division”.
Archive Photo | Photography: Guy Ashash
“It feels good to be operational”
The Transport Division’s Advanced Training Course cadets performed the course’s concluding flights, after which they officially became the IAF’s new transport pilots. The cadets may undergo the course after receiving their flight wings and completing the rigorous flight course, but in order to become operational pilots in the division, they must complete four months of advanced training, a professional and operational challenge of a kind that they have yet to experience.
Immediately after the concluding flights, upon receiving their exam results, the pilots are integrated in the light transport squadrons in Sde-Dov AFB: the “First” Squadron and the “Kings of the Air” Squadron. There, for the next two years, they will serve as operational co-pilots. “Throughout the course, the cadets receive supportive and instructive guidance. But 24 hours after the course ends, they are already placed in the squadrons, two very operational squadrons that fly all day and all night”, explained Maj. Lee.
Lt. Omer was one of the young pilots who recently completed his concluding flights, while the Sde-Dov AFB Commander sat in the cockpit and tested him. Now that he finished, he has no time to fondly think back on the experience, because mere hours after his concluding flight he was positioned in the “Kings of the Air” Squadron as an operational aircrew member. “It feels good to be operational. No matter in what squadron, as long as you are doing operational work”, he shares. “During the course, we were taught to strive for victory, deal with everything that happens coolly and calmly, work in a team and mostly – to complete my mission in the best way possible”.
Archive Photo | Photography: Guy Ashash
The Road to Becoming Operational
The cadets arrive directly from flight school after studying the basics of flight. In the Advanced Training Course they study the division’s missions and intelligence missions, operational scenarios, long-rage flights and navigations. “There are a few significant milestones in the Advanced Training Course”, explained Maj. Lee. “The first is in the first week of the course. You need to understand that you are an aircrew member now, no longer a cadet. The sorting process is over and we are here to the best we can be in the mission. The second milestone is the long-range sorties we perform. They are a real quantum leap professionally speaking. The third milestone is war week, in which the cadets face physical and mental difficulty, lack of sleep and uncertainty and experience many missions and elements relevant to the transport division in times of war. The peak is the concluding flights which are tested by the division’s senior commanders who understand the importance of the course, which is the first step in the division. They come to fly with them and get to know the people who will soon fly in their squadrons”.