They have received their wings: three years of grueling training have ended for the graduates of flight course 173, who received their flight wings today. The “Adir” (F-35I) flew in the ceremony for the first time and the “Shachaf” (Sea-Scan) took off for its last flight

Tal Giladi

The Prime Minister of Israel, Chief of the General Staff and IAF Commander welcomed them into the ranks of the IAF. An aerial demonstration circled above them, complex aerobatic maneuvers were performed by the Flight Academy Instructors, and a loving crowd cheered for them.

They Have Wings!

Photography: Mor Tzidon

Hatzerim AFB was busy with those who arrived to honor the graduates of Flight Course 173 who completed three years of grueling training today and finally received their coveted flight wings. “This moment, your graduation, is the result of great efforts. You have proved a high level of morality and technological abilities. I am proud of you, the citizens of Israel are proud of you”, said Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu. ”When you take off, you are focused on your mission – to promise the safety of 8.5 million Israeli citizens”.

They Have Wings!

Photography: Mor Tzidon

“The IAF has a central role in maintaining the security of Israel. The IDF is perceived by its enemies as a strong and sophisticated military. The ‘Adir’ (F-35I) jets will put Israel at the front line of technology”, stated Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, Chief of the General Staff. “Graduates of Flight Course 173, each one of you is a partner in the IDF’s mission – to promise the existence of the state of Israel. Remember that although the sky is the limit, you must stay grounded”.

“You are worthy of joining the elite team of this country’s aerial protectors, from wood and cloth aircraft to the ‘Adir’, said Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, IAF Commander. “Tomorrow you will become part of a force that operates an advanced network of elite technology, in the air and on the ground, is driven by human spirit and that break unprecedented boundaries. A force that proves, in bold and creative daily operations throughout the Middle East, that the impossible – is possible”.

They Have Wings!

Photography: Mor Tzidon

“A force that proves that the impossible – is possible”
Besides being an important moment in the lives of the graduates, flight course 173’s graduation ceremony was a moment of significant closure in the IAF. The pair of advanced “Adir” (F-35I) stealth fighters that landed in Nevatim AFB less than a month ago, soared into the horizon in their first aerial demonstration, while for the “Shachaf” (Sea-Scan) naval reconnaissance aircraft that completed 38 years of service in the IAF, it was the final flight before becoming non-operational.

“Tomorrow you will become part of a force that operates an advanced network of elite technology, in the air and on the ground, is driven by human spirit and that breaks unprecedented boundaries”, said Maj. Gen. Eshel. “From you, the graduates, we expect bravery, in the air and on the ground, willingness to sacrifice, learn from mistakes and uphold the IDF’s values”, he added.

They Have Wings!

Photography: Mor Tzidon

50 Years of Hatzerim AFB
The ceremony marked a decade since the establishment of Hatzerim AFB, that was first inaugurated as a flight wing commanded by the late Col. Joe Alon. The Flight Academy was the first to move to the southern wing and the graduates of flight course 51, who began their training in Tel-Nof AFB, were the first to receive their wings in Hatzerim AFB’s legendary parade ground.

Hatzerim AFB was the first base established by the IAF. Before its establishment, the IAF operated from bases that remained in Israel from the British Mandate period. “Hatzerim AFB was our first. A young IAF’s vision, design and execution all came together to establish an excellent base on a global scale. With an innovative and operational model in mind, advanced infrastructure was put in place while leaving a significant amount of room for growth”, said Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, IAF Commander, in Hatzerim AFB’s Jubilee ceremony. 

The Israeli Air Force website wishes the new generation of aircrew members good luck!

They Have Wings!

Photography: Mor Tzidon