Unlike most of his fellow graduates, Lieutenant Roy, who became an IAF aircrew member last week, had no previous affiliation with the Israeli Air Force. He has never dreamt of becoming a pilot and his story began many years ago, many miles away from Hatzerim Airbase, where he received the pilot wings just a few days ago.
“I was born in Israel, but we moved to Los Angeles when I was in the third grade”, says Lieutenant Roy. “Throughout our staying in the US, my twin brother and I kept out connection with Israel and at the end of 11th grade came the indecision – should we stay home with our family and go to college or join the IDF?”
After a long thinking process and consultations with family and friends, Roy and his brother decided to go back to Israel and draft. Their cousins served in The “Golani” Infantry Brigade in the past and the brothers followed them. “I came with a lot of team spirit. Golani was an obvious choice for me”, he shares. But two weeks before his draft date, came an unexpected call which opened a door. “I got a call from the recruiting office”, recalls Lieutenant Roy. “I was told I meet the requirement for pilot course and that I can take the tests at any time. I kept that in mind, but I never thought I would become a pilot”.
Before completing his service in Golani, while in Squad Commanders Course, a good family friend had graduated from the Pilot Course. “I attended his graduation ceremony and I was very impressed. It seemed as an interesting and enjoyable job. I recalled the call I received before I drafted and decided to go for it. I didn’t know if I should get released from the army with my friends or continue my service. I had a chance to do something interesting, something I believe in”.
“It is over, but only begins”
From the moment he decided to the beginning of the Pilot Course, Lieutenant Roy faced countless challenges: bureaucracy, long trail period and intensive tests. Despite all that, Lieutenant Roy kept going and ultimately succeeded. One of the things that made it easier for him is the return of his mother and young siblings to Israel.
“I knew the road is not easy, but it was important for me to try”, he says. “I didn’t want to live the rest of my life with the feeling I missed something. I decided I must do it for myself. I said to myself: If it works out – great and if not – I’ve got nothing to lose. I would make the best from it and it is going to be a great experience”.
Throughout the course, Roy maintained his positive approach, a fact that in combination with his skills got him to the finish line. “I looked at every stage by itself. It was very helpful. I wanted to complete each stage on the best side and enjoy it as much as I can. I was never completely confident, I could have dropped out of the course at any moment”.
After three intensive years of tests, studying and flight training, Lieutenant Roy stood on the parade ground and received his rightfully won pilot wings. “If you look at the time, it is like my service in Golani, but of course, this is totally different”, he says. “In Golani, you finish the training period, enter a company and proceed with routine work. Here, you can’t rest even for a moment. Even now – I know it is over, but it only begins”.