It’s long, challenging and the number of people that begin is much bigger than the number of those who complete it. In the IAF Flight Academy, air crews learn flight, ground combat and complete their Bachelor’s a degree in university, all in three years. In honor of the 173rd Flight Academy Course, the commanders, trainers and teachers share their point of view

Tal Giladi

Since the first Flight Academy course, thousands of air crew members have graduated. The three year long course bounds hundreds of flights in different platforms, higher education alongside life lessons and introduces the cadets to a variety of people, each of which develop them towards their wings.

Behind their Wings: Flight Academy Trainers and Commanders

Archive Photo

The preparation stage: Learning by foot
During the preparation stage, the cadets are divided into two groups. Some begin their basic training in the IAF Infantry Academy and the rest begin 15 flights that test their basic flight skills.

The first stages of the course, the preparation and basic stage, focus on building the personality and require great discipline. It is also the cadet’s first acquaintance with IAF culture, as they learn to take responsibility and are introduced in a group forum to the most detailed accounts of possible mistakes that can be made along the way. “When a safety related event takes place in the IAF or a mistake is made, a major investigation is sent in which the lessons learned from the event are detailed as to avoid making the same mistakes in the future”, stated Corporal Noya, instructor in the IAF flight school. “We remind them that this is not a Flight Academy that can be completed as a civilian rather one that provides values and not just flight skills”.

Behind their Wings: Flight Academy Trainers and Commanders

Photo by: Flight Academy

In between their training exercises, the cadets also meet their Flight Academy coaches who teach them in subjects such as aerodynamics, physics and differential and integral calculus. These courses are the first step towards the bachelor degree they complete throughout the Flight Academy Course.

Flight year: what the aircrew member requires
During the first and third stage of the course and in the advanced and final part of it, the cadets focus on flight and aerial content. In the first part they are divided into flight divisions according to the platforms they will be flying and they are taught by young aircrew member and reserve flight coaches. “I see people with strong work ethic that pay attention to the details. They challenge me everyday, because I cannot just give them the response of ‘that’s just the way it is’. They need to receive a logical explanation. Most of our work focuses on directing them, even though most of our teaching techniques require pushing them to do things on their own knowing that is what is required from an aircrew”, explained Capt. Yotam, Commander of the Advanced Helicopter Course.

 

Behind their Wings: Flight Academy Trainers and Commanders

Archive Photo

Academic year
Their education year is divided into two parts and their berets are switched to officer hats. Since 2002, an additional year was added to the course, during which the cadets focus on their academic studies before receiving their BA from Ben-Gurion University, as they leave base once a week to attend university and the rest of the week, the professors teach them on base. “The cadets are motivated to study even though academic studies are not exactly the reason they began the flight academy”, shares Professor Guy Ben-Porat who has been teaching the flight course ever since the education year was established. “Education and broadening ones horizon is necessary for any person, no matter what they do. Being able to analyze, think critically, look at the bigger picture and understand the scenarios taking place around them, are just part of the tools they receive during their education year. As combatants that will find themselves in moral and ethical crossroads and will have to make momentous decision quickly, the bachelor’s degree instills a higher level thinkingability in them”.

Behind their Wings: Flight Academy Trainers and Commanders

Photo by: Adi Abu