First Night Out

“It’s a lot harder to fly at night”

First Night Out

Excited and a bit fearful

First Night Out

This is the first time that cadets took off into darkness

First Night Out

A special briefing for the night flight

This week, cadets of the combat division in the IAF Pilot Training Course went to bed a little later than usual in order to complete their first night takeoffs. After long, intense moments, filled with fear and enthusiasm, they responded: “It’s an amazing feeling. You see the stars above you and little moving spots of light beneath you”
Lilach Gonen | Photography: Yonatan Zalk

The primary stage of the IAF’s Pilot Training Course is just as it sounds: Almost everything is completed for the first time. This week, cadets of the combat division completed their first flight in the darkness. “Suddenly everything looks different”, describes Adi with enthusiasm. “It’s amazing to take flight at night. You see the starts above you and little moving spots of light beneath you. Since you visually intake less than at daylight it feels like you aren’t even moving”.

An hour beforehand, the cadets gathered for a special briefing. After the meeting they walk towards the lane, in rows of two–one cadet and one instructor, in order to get a closer look of the airplane in the darkness. They seem amused, if a bit doubt-ridden. For the instructors, the first night flights aren’t something they can avoid. “These guys have started taking off and landing only a month ago, suddenly they are dealing with completely different conditions”, says Captain Tal, one of the group’s instructors. “It’s a lot harder flying at night. The instructor has to allow the cadet to aviate–the more the better–and has to be more attentive”.

Aside from the challenges of night flights, it has an operational meaning as well. “In my opinion, it’s much more interesting than some of the other things we learn, because it encompasses the basic principles the way were destined to be implemented in operational squadrons”, explains N’, dressed in an overall, minutes before taking off into the darkness. “No matter what aircraft or formation, everyone has to fly at night”.

First Night Out

Taking off into the Darkness