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Training in the Desert Release date 07.09.2017
The IAF Flight Academy's Helicopter Division Cadets have been training daily for three years in Hatzerim AFB. This week, they went south to Ouvda AFB for a week of intensive learning. "We think of this deployment as a meaningful turning point for our cadets' flight capabilities"
Illy Pe'ery

The IAF Flight Academy's Helicopter Division has a tradition – somewhere in the middle of their course, they relocate to Ouvda AFB for a week. "It is the division's flagship event, in which we make flight our focal point for a whole week", said Capt. Ido, flight instructor and head of the current deployment. "Flight in unfamiliar, complex terrain brings about a considerable leap in capabilities for the cadets and the deployment to Ouvda AFB is regarded as a significant part of their flight training where their flight capabilities change completely".

Archive Photo

Maneuvering Mountains
The Helicopter Division may deploy as a single, unified division, but the cadets from the primary stage and the advanced stages of the course are divided into two separate groups upon their arrival at Ouvda AFB. The primary stage cadets have minimal flight experience – they have just finished the ground stage of their flight course, alongside the conversion training period for the "Saifan" (Bell 206) instruction helicopter. However, the advanced stage cadets have clocked many flight hours both in the air and in the simulator and are currently learning to fly the "Yanshuf" (Black Hawk) helicopter. "The content for the primary and advanced stages is different and matches the cadets' capabilities", explained Capt. Ido. "The advanced stage's cadets focus on night flights, while the primary stage's cadets mainly learn how to perform navigation sorties in mountainous territory".

Photography: Yehezkel Shmueli

The mountainous topography which is characteristic of the AFB's surroundings is one of the main reasons for the division's deployment to Ouvda AFB, seeing as these areas are similar to the helicopters' main areas of activity. The cadets in the primary stage, who have flown most of their flights in flat terrain, learn the basics of flying in mountainous areas. "There are a number of essential differences between flying in flat terrain and flying in mountainous terrain, which are relevant to altitude, winds and form of landing", elaborated Capt. Ido. "The cadets learn how to analyze the terrain and plan their flight accordingly. They learn how to handle emergencies, how to land in mountainous terrain if necessary and are instructed on how to deal with winds affecting their flight".

"The advanced stage began with conversion training for the 'Yanshuf' helicopter and a short rehearsal of the content they learned in the primary stage. This deployment raised the bar for the level of content learned by the cadets", said Maj. Nimrod, Commander of the Helicopter Division's Advanced Stage Squadron. "In Ouvda AFB, the cadets fly numerous night sorties, which are more complex than diurnal flights, while also learning to use instruments for night vision and studying content such as high-altitude night flights".

Archive Photo

Quantum Leap
A substantial challenge faced by the cadets during the deployment, is an overload of flights. "Each cadet flies around ten sorties a week. Being unfamiliar with the terrain and the new mode of flight, the cadets face a great challenge", said Capt. Ido. It appears that the intensity of the week is what brings about the considerable leap in the cadets' capabilities, of which the division's staff is proud. The cadets leave Ouvda AFB with new capabilities, experience and mainly confidence. Capt. Nimrod concluded: "It's not just another standard day at the Flight Academy – it's a unique event, which leaves the cadets with an improved skill-set and new experiences".