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Meet the Flight Course Commanders Release date 30.10.2018
The IAF Flight Course Preparation Phase's commanders have a unique position, completely different from any other squad commander in the IDF. The IAF Site provides you with an insight into the women who stand behind the next generation of aircrew members
Illy Pe'ery

Cpl. May Gabay
"A good commander believes in her soldiers. During the Flight Course's Preparatory Phase, the soldiers aren't sorted according to their personality but according to their flight skills. As a result, we have to know them best – if I don't know them well enough, I won't know how to point them in the right direction".

Photography: Noam Nachum

The Preparatory Phase – the first stage of the Flight Course – brings 300 boys and girls into the most prestigious and challenging course in the IDF. Flight Course squad commanders play a key role in training the soldiers, acting as the first commanding authority they encounter in the military. "We begin the course with 60 youths which we have to turn into soldiers within six months. It means waking up at 4:30AM after going to sleep at 12AM, and being responsible 24/7 for countless things. These are the standards you set not only for your soldiers, but for yourself as well".

Photography: Noam Nachum

"I may not be an aircrew member, but any aircrew member you ask will tell you that they remember their Preparatory Phase commander".

Sgt. Alma Yanay
"A good commander knows exactly how to strive forward and how to advance. I expect the same of myself as I do of my soldiers. This means challenging them constantly and never letting them rest. This experience can only be gained with hours upon hours spent in the Preparatory Phase".

Sgt. Alma Yanay enlisted in the Flight Course and began the Preparatory Phase. She faced every challenge currently faced by the soldiers under her command, and it was during the course's first weeks that she realized that if she would ever need to choose a different position, it would be in the field of command.

Photography: Noam Nachum

"In most places in the IDF the commander is meant to care for his soldiers and provide them with information, but unless you become an officer, most commanders don't operate in the field and face dilemmas. My commander at the Preparatory Phase immediately showed me something else: she was with us from day until night, which allowed her to create a new reality for us.

"The soldiers go from having their commander tell them what to do at any given moment to managing their schedules entirely by themselves. It requires creativity and effort from all sides, but there are always solutions".

Cpl. Ariel Berkovich
"I have seen many courses as a spectator – sometimes, commanders tend act tough and keep a distance from their soldiers. I don't think that works. I believe in keeping a distance, but coldness alone will not get me what I want from my soldiers. A commander needs to be listened to and trusted in".

Photography: Noam Nachum

"During my squad commander course I had a perfectionist commander who kept a distance, but in certain situations she knew how to look us in the eye. It's important for me that my soldiers are disciplined, but this can certainly be earned by way of respect".

Sgt. Shachar Fabian
"During the Preparatory Phase, the Flight Course cadets go through dozens of commanders and instructors. My role as a commander is to be the one who is always there. The one who thinks not about their flight skills but about their soldiering. I want to give them the best treatment possible so that they are able to perform their professional training as best they can".

Photography: Noam Nachum

The Flight Course is made up of six distinct stages, each stage having different commanders and different instructors. The same goes for the Preparatory Phase, in which the cadets are instructed by aircrew members, basic training commanders and professional instructors. The squad commanders have to find their place in the gestalt.

"Since so many factors are involved in the cadets' instruction, the challenging part of our job is finding our place in their day-to-day. Working with them is different to working with soldiers in other places. We have to know what they need according to just their facial expressions, face them with the highest standards possible and require the uppermost discipline".

Cpl. May Barzilay
"In order to see what our soldiers go through, we joined a simulated test flight. We are alongside them throughout every part of the Preparatory Phase. It's like working with modelling clay, designing their character. The soldiers' level is always high so we can always demand more. My goal is to help them strive for excellence".

Photography: Noam Nachum