In preparation for the Graduation of Course 172 of the IAF Flight Academy, we researched flight academies from all over the world. In what country are flight cadets thrown into deep water and required to escape from a sinking helicopter and where do cadets from all corps study in one academy?

Tal Giladi | Translation: Ohad Zeltzer Zubida & Ofri Aharon

The Flight Academy provides one of the most challenging and prestigious courses in the IDF. It combines intensive theoretical and practical studies, unique experiences such as an exercise which simulates enemy captivity or ejecting in the field and combined with the distance from home, it exposes and stretches the cadets’ limits. In addition to all of this, there is also the constant concern from the screening process, which escorts the cadets daily for three years.

This is how Flight School has become a comprehensive personality test which examines thousands of components of the minds and souls of the cadets and checks: Are you fit to become an aerial combatant? Will you be the one to operate million Dollars aircraft for the safety of Israel’s citizens?
The IAF’s Flight Course includes a diverse ground stage, theoretical studies for professional and general education, higher education for the cadets’ bachelor’s degree and of course studying the fundamentals of flight to the extent of about 250 flight hours, this we already know. Now we went out to check what Fight Academies look like in different countries around the world.

United States Marine Corps Flight School
USMC (United States Marine Corps) is one of the U.S service branches, which specializes in marine infantry warfare, protecting and attacking naval vessels and amphibious warfare. Marine pilots are trained to take off from and land on aircraft carriers and focus on attacking combat helicopters and close assistance missions to forces in the field.

How do you become a marine pilot?
In order to become a Marine pilot you must first be an officer in the U.S Armed Forces and commit to eight years of service. The training period beings with a six week preliminary stage in which the cadets study basic aviation, the laws of transportation and basic aerodynamics.The cadets then advance to a six month long stage which focuses on basic flight training in which they begin accumulating flight hours and experience in different aerial situations. In advanced training they examine the Marine Corps aircraft such as fighter jets, combat helicopters and the V-22 “Osprey” which are equipped with two engines and rotors and have VTOL and STOL capabilities.

From the Sky to the Sea
Befitting of pilots that take off and land on ships and naval landing pads and operate mostly over the ocean, the cadets undergo comprehensive naval training such as parachuting over water, survival swimming and deployment of emergency rescue boats. They are often quite literally thrown into the deep end, in order to test their ability to survive underwater with their flight gear on them without panicking. They also learn how to escape from sinking aircraft by training in an underwater device which simulates a sunken helicopter.

From India to Saudi Arabia: Flight Academies Around the World

The Marines cadets undergo comprehensive naval training

Indian Air Force Academy
The Indian Air Force is considered to be one of the largest air forces in the world and possesses advanced platforms. Most of the Indian Air Force’s three year long Flight course cadets are academic graduates and yet, the first two years are dedicated to studying exact science and military strategies.
Their studies take place in the Indian Air Force Academy, along with other cadets from the Army and the Navy and officers of all ranks and positions from the air force. In the academy, the flight cadets study the characteristics of aerial force and its operation with the help of computerized simulators and study management and leadership. In the last year of the course, the cadets attend flight school where they accumulate 150 flight hours and undergo basic training on jet aircraft. The cadets study air-air combat, attack missions and operation of weaponry only in the advanced training stage after the flight course.

This year, the Indian Air Force will celebrate a historic event – three women will graduate from the Indian Air Force Academy as India’s first female fighter pilots, after years of women only being able to graduate as Transport and Helicopter pilots.

From India to Saudi Arabia: Flight Academies Around the World

The Indian Air Force aviation cadets study air-air combat, attack missions and operation of weaponry only after completing pilot’s course

Kenya Air Force Flight School
The Kenya Air Force was established on June 1, 1964. The first Kenyan Pilots received their pilot wings in a celebratory ceremony in 1965 in the presence of the country’s president. In the historic event, the late president gave an unforgettable speech: “When you think you know everything about flight, that must mean it’s time to stay on ground”.

The course is 18 months long and divided into four stages: ground, basic, intermediate and advanced. The entry requirements are first of to be a Kenyan native. Men and women are equally able to serve.

From India to Saudi Arabia: Flight Academies Around the World

Only natives can become pilots in the Kenyan Air Force

Royal Saudi Air Force, King Faisal Air Academy
RSAF pilots are trained in the King Faisal Air Academy. It is rumored that the way to the cockpit begins with familial ties to the Royal Throne. It may just be a rumor, but one thing’s for sure – aviation cadets, those with and without familial ties, will go through an intensive training, based on the Islamic culture that controls the nation.

The first stage of the course is basic training. Afterwards, the aviation cadets begin an 18 month study period during which they undergo courses in Islam and International Law along with professional lessons in aviation, aerial weaponry and communications. After two years, the cadets begin to fly, mostly on the “Cessna 172” aircraft. During the third stage, they advance to the PC-9 and train on simulators and just before completing the academy and receiving their wings, they fly a “BAC Strikemaster” and continue their aviation studies.

From India to Saudi Arabia: Flight Academies Around the World

The training for the Royal Saudi Arabian aviation cadet is based on the Islamic culture