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Flight Course 176 Concluding Flights Release date 11.06.2018
The cadets of Flight Course 176 performed their concluding flights alongside IAF Commander Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin and other IAF senior commanders
Illy Pe’ery | Photography: Koral Dvir

It is 7AM – the cadets are seated in the squadron’s debriefing room. They have worn green flight suits every day for three years, changing their patches every six months. In two weeks, their white epaulettes will be traded in for their official ranks. After several minutes, IAF Commander Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin walks into the room, followed by Hatzerim AFB Commander Brig. Gen. Avshalom Amosi and Flight Academy Commander Col. A’. Today, the cadets will perform their concluding flights - their last flights as Flight Course cadets. “This is an event to celebrate, in which the cadets are able to show what they've learned throughout the three years of their course”, stated Col. A’, Commander of the Flight Academy. “There is something very powerful in having to pass a final test in order to complete the course, after three years of studies and experiences. The IAF measures the final result, and before the cadets become official combatants they must show us their final results”.

From Cadets to Combatants
The Flight Course’s concluding flight tests span over two days, on which many IAF senior officers arrive at Hatzerim AFB in order to fly with the cadets. As soon as the cadets don their insignia, they officially become qualified aircrew members. Seeing as the concluding flight's results are as critical as any other test during the Flight Course, they prepare as usual and even more than that. “The concluding flight concentrates all the material learned by the cadets during the advanced stage: they begin the sortie with a flight formation, move onto the most advanced aerial dogfight scenario learned in the Flight Course, which is a 'one against two' scenario, and end with unexpected scenarios managed in real time by the testers”, presented Capt. Y’, the course’s deputy commander and an instructor in the Flight Course's Advanced Stage. “It is a very long, complex flight. Therefore, we fly preparation sorties two weeks in advance. The cadets fly with instructors who simulate testers, focusing on giving feedback. We use this platform to practice stressful scenarios and the cadet's independence in the air. When they land we give them feedback and tips to help them succeed in their concluding flights”.

The tester sits in the backseat during the flight, which allows him to challenge the cadet with unexpected scenarios. Both of them debrief together after the flight, and the tester has to grade the cadet according to his capabilities. "We instruct them on how to become wingmen: how to arrive at the morning brief, how to communicate with the flight leader and how to properly debrief, among others. These are some of the most significant elements", said Capt. Y'. "We try to emulate an operational squadron. The dynamics between the regular service members and the senior officers simulate reality in the operational squadrons. This makes it easier to connect with the cadets and talk to them at eye level. They are mature, closer than ever to completing their course. As an instructor, this is my chance to turn them into combatants. That is our job. The first thing I want to teach them is values – then I'll teach them how to fly".

The Long & Winding Road 
The concluding flight is a concentration of three years of basic training, test flights, an ever-present tension, many questions and one objective – finishing the course successfully. "No matter how we look at it, it's not just a regular flight. I'm excited, and it's actually helpful", said Capt. A', who flew his test flight with the commander of the IAF. "I was so concentrated after taking off that I forgot who was sitting behind me, I just focused and did my best. After landing, I felt weird knowing I wasn't going to fly for a while – we have a whole month to wait before we begin our Advanced Training Course. We all feel a certain euphoria, but we can't process anything yet. Today's flight was a significant ending for this period".