The 36th Airborne Mechanic Course has come to an end. In honor of the event, meet the IAF’s airborne mechanics, elite auxiliary aircrew members who are an integral part of helicopter aircrews, and are essential to every mission

Vered Talala and Nadav Shaham | Translation: Ohad Zeltzer Zubida & Ofri Aharon

Yesterday, the 36th airborne mechanic course came to an end and its graduates officially joined the IAF’s Transport Helicopter Division. Even though the UAV Division is gaining momentum, a large number of authorities in the IAF expect that in the foreseeable future, flown SAR missions will still be performed by human beings. This claim is strengthened further when examining the occurrences in the Airborne Mechanic’s world, whose missions and duty receive a growing part in the division’s activity as the years pass.

“Today, you complete a challenging course and a long journey, which trained you to become airborne mechanics in the IAF’s Transport Helicopter Squadrons”, said Palmahim AFB Commander, Brig. Gen. Nimrod in the graduation ceremony. “In a moment, when the bases sirens will sound, you will rush to the ready alert helicopter, prepare it and take off for the unknown; your first operational mission”.

Boundless and Steadfast: New Airborne Mechanics

Photography: Mor Tzidon

Integral and Essential
Today, more than ever, there is a full understanding of the importance of airborne mechanics, which are an integral part of the helicopter crew. Without them, no transport helicopter sortie could take off.

The airborne mechanic is an auxiliary aircrew member, who is part of the helicopter crew alongside the captain and co-pilot, and who, in practice, has a dual responsibility: on the one hand he serves as an auxiliary aircrew member, responsible for operating the mission systems, operating the cabin and the cockpit systems, identifying malfunctions in flight and classifying them. In addition he is responsible for loading, positioning and unloading combatants, passengers and injured people on and off the helicopter, and assists the crew in cleaning the landing platform. On the other hand, the airborne engineer is a trained technical professional, qualified in dealing with helicopter malfunctions, who also performs maintenance rounds and tests as a condition to continuing the mission, even when the plane is outside its mother base.

Boundless and Steadfast: New Airborne Mechanics

Photography: Mor Tzidon

Dedication to the Country and to Saving Lives
After serving as ground mechanics and participating in an eight month course, four new Airborne Mechanics joined the Transport Helicopter Division this week. “At the edge of every mission a transport helicopter takes off to, there is an Airborne Mechanic that ensures the mission is performed smoothly”, said Maj. Eyal, Commander of the Airborne Mechanic Course which is conducted in Palmahim AFB.

SRGT. MAJ. Shay, a graduate who served as a technician in the “Leaders of the Night” Squadron for the past nine years and is now returning to his squadron as an airborne mechanic, stated: “What pushed me to participate in the course was the desire to give to my country and perform a very significant duty. As part of my duty in the squadron I conducted ground checks to ensure the helicopter was ready for take-off, but I always wanted to be the one sitting in the helicopter when it takes off for its mission”.

“What pushed me to be an airborne mechanic was the value of human life, the idea that there is someone who needs my help and that we will come with the helicopter to save and rescue him, is the reason the duty of an airborne mechanic is so important”, added SSGT. Daniel, from the “Rolling Sword” Squadron, who also recently graduated.

Boundless and Steadfast: New Airborne Mechanics

Photography: Mor Tzidon

From the Combat Helicopter to the Transport Helicopter
SSGT. Boris is the first airborne mechanic in the history of the IAF that originated from the field of Combat Helicopter Maintenance. His persistence is what helped him get in to the course, to succeed in it and graduate with honors. “It’s a matter of life or death in the air”, he shared. “If we do not do what is expected of us it could cause the helicopter to crash, so we have great responsibility”.