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Learning to Fly Release date 10.07.2018
After their first year in the Flight Course, 26 cadets arrived at the Combat Primary Stage Squadron in the Flight Academy. During the last few weeks they learned about flight basics – taking off and landing. This week they will perform their first solo flight
Illy Pe’ery

Two weeks ago, the cadets of Flight Course 180 began the course’s Primary Stage. Cadets in the combat department will fly the “Efroni” (T-6) aircraft solo for the first time. We followed the cadets of Flight Course 180 from day one, throughout the entirety of their first year and until today. We tried to answer the simple yet complex question: how does one learn to take off and land?


Celia Garion

Basic Yet Complex
“Throughout the flight course’s first year, the cadets underwent technical studies, test flights, basic training, escape, navigation and operational deployment. At the end of the Basic Stage, they flew several test flights in order to determine which cadet would join which division”, said Capt. G’, a course commander at the Primary Stage. “The cadets arrive at the Primary Stage with no knowledge or flight experience – the 15 test flights they flew served the sole purpose of sorting between the cadets. They perform their first solo flight just two weeks after the beginning of the Primary Stage”.

Up until that moment, these two weeks are the cadets’ most intense in terms of flight. They fly two sorties every day, and spend the rest of their time studying, debriefing and simulating.


Photography: Koral Dvir

"Simulators weren’t as significant to the IAF and to the Flight Academy in the past as they are today. My first solo sortie was a lot more complex than the ones cadets perform today. Nowadays, cadets train in the simulator before performing their first solo flight. This allows them to become familiar with the flight before performing it”, explained Capt. G’. “We practice the sortie many times with the capability of drilling emergencies and communication with the ATCs (Air Traffic Controllers). During their first sortie, we tend to give the cadets freedom to do the order of actions on their own, with us there to help”.

During the sortie, the instructors sit in the WSO’s backseat while the cadets fly the aircraft. This ensures the cadets perform even the most basic actions with accuracy. “Landing is more complex than taking off, because it is practically a controlled collision with the runway. Taking off involves a more logical and simple order of actions than landing. Above all, we are in the aircraft to ensure safety. We want to allow the cadets to lead the sortie from beginning to end”.


Photography: Koral Dvir

Almost Pilots
Before the cadets are allowed to fly on their own, they have to pass a solo test flight. The cadet flies the aircraft while the instructor sitting in the backseat hopes not to interfere.
“The flight isn’t very hard but it is very stressful. If the cadet passes the test, he is qualified to fly solo”, described Cadet G’, from the Flight Course’s Primary Stage. “Although we aren’t fighter jet pilots but rather ‘Efroni’ (T-6) pilots, we feel as though we are treated as certified pilots”.


Photography: Koral Dvir

“The cadet’s ability to succeed and make mistakes depends on their instructors as well”, summarized Capt. G’. “Our goal is that every cadet that reaches the Primary Stage will graduate. This is the first time they perform instructional sorties, rather than test sorties. The environment in the aircraft needs to be very comfortable in order to talk with the cadets about their mistakes and ensure their improvement. However, even though the environment is comfortable, we maintain the high level of professionalism necessary to fly an aircraft”.