Passover is upon us, and we find ourselves sympathizing with some parts of the Haggadah. For the holiday, we decided to write down our version of the traditional “Ten Plagues”: these are the ten plagues the IAF deals with all year

Zohar Boneh | Translation: Ohad Zeltzer Zubida | Graphics: Yarden Brikman

The biblical story of the “Ten Plagues” tells of ten calamities god inflicted upon the Egyptian people because of Pharao’s refusal to set the Jewish people free. It was god’s way to save the people and simultaneously prove his tremendous force.

On Passover, we tell the story of the Ten Plagues of Egypt, but the IAF also has a few plagues we deal with, not only during Passover, but all year long. For the holiday, here are the Ten Plagues of the IAF and the ways it manages to overcome them.

For Passover: The Ten Plagues of the IAF

FOD
The first plague is a large nuisance which can endanger human lives, “Foreign Object Damage” or FOD for short, is a situation in which foreign objects find their way into an aircraft’s engine or on to the airstrip.
It might seem like an unsolvable problem, it’s impossible to successfully sweep a three kilometer airstrip, but a simple invention of a former fighter pilot, which blocks the entrance of stones and objects into the airstrip, has already lowered the amount of FODs on the airstrip it was installed around by 80 percent.

The creative solution to this problem came from Maj. I’ who established a start-up company with the goal of ending the phenomenon. The solution includes blockades installed on the sides of the airstrip in order to prevent entrance of rocks and other objects into the strip.

For Passover: The Ten Plagues of the IAF

Check 10
The next plague is straight out of the IAF’s Flight Academy, which is a tough place for cadets regardless. Every flight academy cadet will testify that the most stressful part of the course is of course – the “checks”. The checks are in fact flight tests that can determine a cadet’s future, some sort the cadets into different divisions and some screen from the course completely. One after the other, cadets drop like flies and all you can do is cross your fingers and hope that you won’t be called out of class and sent home. The worst part is that once you pass the checks, you will have another in a few months. There is no doubt that the checks deserve a plague of their own, even though they exist for a good reason.

“I was a bit scared before”, admits Lt. Y’, who is now a fighter pilot in the “First Jet” Squadron. “Not because of the danger, because I knew that there was an instructor behind me, but mostly because it was a test and the situation puts pressure on you. The truth is that every time you fly a plane for the first time, it’s different. Suddenly all of the noises are different to what you are used to, your reactions are different”.

For Passover: The Ten Plagues of the IAF

“Wait a second, someone is taking off”
The next plague is a little inevitable and relevant to almost every soldier in the IAF – the tremendous noise on base. It seems like every aircraft has the need to notify every single one of the base’s inhabitants and every village in the area, that it is taking off. Meanwhile we just close the door, but for god’s sake, when will someone invent a silencer for a jet engine?

For Passover: The Ten Plagues of the IAF

Oldies and Goldies
Many of the IAF’s aircraft have been operational for decades and healthy logic asks – how does one safely operate a 40 year old aircraft? But the IAF’s Technical Division, in HQ and in the field, works days and nights in order to make the years non-felt. Thanks to the division’s technological abilities, the veteran aircraft undergo restorations and upgrades which make them young and shiny.

Some people might be a bit apprehensive about flying a helicopter made before his parents met, but thanks to our technicians, that doesn’t happen in the IAF.

For Passover: The Ten Plagues of the IAF

A Winter Flight
Another plague is the fickle Israeli weather, storms in particular. A famous Israeli singer once said that “Wars don’t happen in the winter anymore”, but we don’t count on it. “The main problem with flying in the winter is the dis-orientation as a result of poor visibility conditions. Despite the advanced systems, the aircrew members find it difficult to respond to their surroundings without the ability to see”, explains Lt. Col. Ilan, Head of the Flight Safety Branch in Quality Control HQ.

But we aren’t intimidated at all, our aircrew members train for all weather conditions, in the day, night and fog. So what’s a little rain to us?

For Passover: The Ten Plagues of the IAF

With G Force in the Sky
Do you know the feeling of accelerating in your car and being slammed to your seat? Now imagine the same feeling in a fighter jet. The feeling doesn’t only throw you back into your seat and make you feel like you weigh 400 kg, in extreme situations, it can cause fainting. Be sure that it isn’t very fun.

This force, G-force, is definitely the sixth plague of the IAF, but it also has a simple solution – the G-suit. The suit pumps blood to the head by applying pressure to the limbs and stomach and prevents fainting. The suit has another advantage – it looks great.

For Passover: The Ten Plagues of the IAF

Being Faceless
This plague is a particularly delicate subject. Being a pilot is a position with “swag”, but where’s the fun in that if every time someone takes a picture of you, it has to be of your back? A picture of the gang from your squadron becomes a whole production and your mom, who always wanted to brag about her son being a pilot, can’t even post a touching picture from your “Wings Ceremony” on Facebook.

For Passover: The Ten Plagues of the IAF

The Plague of Birds
Another plague is our natural neighbor in the sky – birds. It’s nothing personal and we don’t have a problem with a seagull or two above our AFBs, but when a flock of birds is in our aircraft’s trajectory and there is a danger of it ending up in its engine, both sides have a real problem.

“Because bird migration is dynamic, it is very difficult to eliminate bird-related accidents completely, but we have significantly reduced these incidents and minimize the damage of each collision”, shared Maj. Tal, Head of the Birding Department.

For Passover: The Ten Plagues of the IAF

Crossing Tel Aviv
Our second to last plague has to do with transportation. IAF AFBs are enormous, in fact, Nevatim AFB in the Negev is only ¼ of an acre smaller then Tel-Aviv. Want to eat lunch? You’ll have to wait for a ride for an hour and if it doesn’t show, walk in the desert for two hours. And b you find a ride back to your squadron, it’ll be a long one because jets have the right of way.

For Passover: The Ten Plagues of the IAF

A Beige Colored Plague
There is no doubt that the most devastating plague IAF soldiers have to deal with is our Service Dress. After a week spent in a comfortable overall, service dress suddenly make you feel like a mummy. And don’t get us talking about the caution they require, because any little stain is visible on the beige fabric.

Despite the plagues, IAF servicemen know the IAF’s strength and are loyal and appreciative of what the force gives back. The small daily difficulties are what make us stronger, because when those problems come up, we know how to keep our head high and stride through.