Pilots for a Day

Photo by: Tair Adato

Pilots for a Day

Photo by: Tair Adato

Pilots for a Day

Photo by: Tair Adato

Pilots for a Day

Photo by: Tair Adato

Pilot cadets must endure a three year highly intense course in order to achieve pilot wings. A group of youths with special needs successfully achieved their wings in only three hours
Shachar Zorani

Monday started with a completely mundane morning for the soldiers of Ramat-David Airbase. Operation CEO’s manned the operations room, air crew members set off routine training, and technicians prepared aircraft for takeoff. But for the students of “Galim” (Waves) School, this was a very special morning, starting when they entered the main gate of Ramat-David Airbase for a day full of surprises.

“Galim” is a special education school for children and youth with motor and mental disabilities. The school teaches its students with maturity and independence, as well as inter-personal skills and how to integration into society. The tour in the Airbase was a product of the school’s cooperation with the students’ parents. “I served in the Israeli Air Force in several positions, as did some of my family members, and so I chose to organize a tour for the students”, explained Major (Res.) Eli Ben-Orian, the father of the student Ido and the initiator of the special daytrip.

Instead of history class in school, the students started their day in the Airbase’s heritage room, where they listened to stories about the airbase and Ido’s father military service, and watched a movie about the Airbase. At the end of the presentation, the students went on to the “Valley” squadron. There, they sat in the debriefing room, watched authentic videos taken on sorties and donned real flight suits.

After being debriefed and ready for the mission, the students went outside to the hardened aircraft shelter (HAS) to watch the airplanes up close, but a problem suddenly arose. “Here in the HAS I can’t speak to children”, said a weapon system operator from the squadron. “If I want you to understand me, you must become pilots, so I’ve decided to grant you with pilot wings”. The students stood at attention, saluted, and one by one were given the highly desired wings, which were made especially for the visit. “It moved us to tears. They saw, felt, and heard the planes, they became pilots for a day”, said Major (Res.) Ben-Orian. “We came here to salute the IAF, and we feel like the IAF is saluting the students. We were filled with satisfaction and pride, and we know we can always trust the IAF”.