They are the only ones who fly on operational aircraft in Flight School, they are Flight Academy Cadets but perform their training in Nevatim AFB, learn to work in teams and are known for being great friends outside the cockpit. The Transport Navigators and Flight Engineers Squadron trains the Tactical Transport Divisions next generation

Tal Giladi

“No one arrives at the IAF’s Flight Academy with an aspiration of becoming a flight engineer or transport navigator, everybody wants to be fighter and helicopter pilots”, shared Maj. Itay, Commander of the Transport Navigators and Flight Engineers Squadron in the IAF Flight Academy and a Transport Navigator in the “Knights of the Yellow Bird” Squadron.

The Aircrew Members You Aren’t Familiar With

Photography: Celia Garion

While most of the IAF’s Flight Academy Cadets undergo their training on designated instruction aircraft, the Transport Navigators and Flight Engineers Squadron’s training sorties are performed on the operational “Karnaf” (Hercules C-130) “Re’em” (Boeing 707) and the “Shimshon” (Super Hercules C-130J) in order to prepare them for the role they will fill in their operational squadrons from their first flights. “Flying in operational aircraft from the beginning requires them to maintain a level reserved for trained aircrew members because the platform and crew they fly with don’t ‘take it easy’ on them”, said Maj. Itay.

The Aircrew Members You Aren’t Familiar With

Photography: Celia Garion

During the first weeks of their training, the cadets learn about the aircraft and their various systems, while the understanding of each element and detail in the complex heavy transport aircraft and learning immense amounts of material in a short time, allows the cadets to later make the whole greater than the sum of its parts.

They later take off for sorties in and outside of Israel. In the past weeks they have utilized the knowledge that they have acquired in order to succeed in various missions and scenarios such as transportation of ground forces, parachuting equipment, aerial refueling and flight in difficult weather conditions. “In these flights, the cadets are required to achieve a final outcome or solve problems that come up regarding the aircraft or the flight routes”, explained Maj. Itay. “Following the course, they continue deepening their knowledge of the platforms they have been operating since flight school and by doing so, arrive at their squadrons at a very high level”.

The Aircrew Members You Aren’t Familiar With

Photography: Celia Garion

During the Primary and Advanced Stages of their flight training, the cadets deploy to flight simulators in the U.S, Italy and Belgium in order to learn the intricacies of their role and simulate emergency situations. There, they can experience dealing with malfunctions impossible to rehearse in flight, such as engine shutdown and emergency landing.

The Aircrew Members You Aren’t Familiar With

Photography: Celia Garion

A First in the IAF Flight Academy: “Shimshon” Navigators Course
Transport Navigators are responsible for planning the mission, managing the crew in the air and monitoring the flight, times and intelligence data. If there is a threat in a specific area, a Transport Navigator will know to plan a new flight route in accordance with the terrain and mission. “While in the ‘Karnaf’, the Flight Engineer is responsible for operating the aircraft’s systems, the lack of this role in the ‘Shimshon’ requires the rest of the crew to take on the responsibilities of the Flight Engineer. As a result, a new role was created in the IAF: ‘Shimshon’ Navigators and a unique training program different from the one ‘Karnaf’ Navigators undergo, was created accordingly as the new role has additional responsibilities”, shared Capt. Asaf, Commander of the “Shimshon” Navigators Course and a Transport Navigator in the “Elephants” Squadron.

The Aircrew Members You Aren’t Familiar With

Photography: Celia Garion