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This Month in History: October Release date 24.10.2017
44 years have passed since the "Yom Kippur" War, which took Israel by surprise. On October 6, 1973, Ground Controller Danny Netovich watched the war begin
IAF Site

Yom Kippur, October 6, 1973, 14:00, Ofir AFB, Sharm El Sheikh, Sinai Peninsula
The few soldiers that were situated on base were quietly resting, in accordance with the Day of Atonement’s atmosphere. "I was performing my noon shift in the control tower, scanning the bright horizon", described Danny Netovich, who served as a ground controller at the airbase. “I look south of Tiran Island and see a large group of black dots moving north, like a flock of migrating birds. But it wasn't migrating season and when it is, they usually fly higher and in the opposite direction. If they aren't birds, they're aircraft", he recalled, looking back on the moments which turned out to be the first seconds of the war. "But it can't be, it's Yom Kippur. There are no training flights and the control unit didn't notify us about flights in the airspace. It can't be".

Archive Photo

Danger Ahead
Sixteen MiG-21 and twelve MiG-17 Egyptian fighters appear from the south, disappear behind Tiran Island and reappear from the east with a clear goal – attacking Ofir AFB, its communication systems and a nearby “Hawk” SAM battery.

"I take my binoculars and clearly identify the flock as an aircraft formation. It's a shock", said Danny. "I radio the air traffic controller while attempting to remain calm and ask him if he sees an aircraft formation approaching from the south-east on the radar. He replies – 'There's no such thing, I see nothing. Get a pair of glasses'. He laughs and hangs up. The black dots approach Tiran Island, and even without the binoculars, I recognized the outlines of fighter jets. I contacted the controller again and reported, 'I can confirm that there are 20 fighter jets flying low from south to north, now behind the island of Tiran'. Silence".

Archive Photo

It's A War
Danny had already realized that they were fighter jets, making their way in his direction. "I felt helpless, blacked out momentarily and then the adrenaline started flowing", he shared. "No thoughts and no hesitations. The body starts working according to habit instead of common sense". He rushed to the sirens and turned them on – the alarm sounded while the enemy jets approached.

Two IAF F-4 Phantom crews on standby immediately responded to the sirens. They were scrambled to the aircraft and took off, mere moments before the enemy assault. "The Phantoms dived from above and entered a low-altitude ‘dog-fight’. Rockets and shells were fired at short range; MiGs were shot down. Others were hit above the water, diving and disappearing from view. Then the assault was over. Silence", he concluded. "Both Phantoms ran out of gas and ceased the chase after downing seven MiGs. They came back to land and the war continued".