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Flight Course 177 Receive Their Wings Release date 26.12.2018
Three intensive years have come to an end: today, the graduates of Flight Course 177 stood on Hatzerim AFB's parade ground for the last time and received their coveted pilot wings, thus officially joining the ranks of the IAF's aircrew members
Nuphar Blitt

Today (Wednesday), the graduates of Flight Course 177 stood on Hatzerim AFB's parade ground for the last time and received their pilot wings in an exciting ceremony. Present at the ceremony were Israel's Prime Minister & Minister of Defense, Benjamin Netanyahu; IDF Chief of Staff Brig. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot; and the Commander of the IAF, Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin. In the audience were thousands of relatives, friends and young Flight Course cadets who came to congratulate Israel's newest aircrew members.


Photography: Koral Dvir

"The air force is at the peak of its strength. It is a leading strategic force with a crucial influence on the strategic balance in our area", said Prime Minister Netanyahu. "The people of Israel and I are counting on you. I am alongside our pilots at all times. In the small hours of the night, I wait waking near the red phone, waiting to hear from the Military Secretary that the mission, as complex as it was, was performed successfully and that our forces returned home safely. You have just one mission, which was the focal point of your training – defending your homeland and winning the war".


Photography: Koral Dvir

Brig. Gen. Eizenkot spoke to the graduates: "In a short while you will enter the cockpit, but the responsibility on your shoulders will be larger than ever before. While leading the force with the world's most innovative aircraft at your disposal, you will embark on missions of critical strategic and tactical importance. At the same time, you will be required to transcend the limits of what is possible, adjust your operation according to the changing reality and look ahead towards future challenges with the goal of completing your missions. In the name of the IDF and Israel's citizens – fly safely, perform your missions and come back safely". 


Photography: Koral Dvir

Their Watch
"Throughout the year – which will end in just several days – the IAF worked extensively in several theatres", said IAF Commander Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin. "Our aircraft performed both defensive and offensive missions while our pilots showed great courage. In cooperation with the IDF Military Intelligence Directorate, we managed to prevent Iranian military establishment in Syria. This isn't the end of the story, and if necessary, we will operate with the same determination, the same precision and the same professionalism – both on the ground and in the air. You graduates, standing before me – this is now your watch. I know that you will act as a defensive force for Israel's citizens, just as other aircrew members have done over the past seven decades".


Photography: Koral Dvir

"The moment in which you don your insignia is the moment you fulfill your dream after three years of hard work", added Maj. Gen. Norkin. "This is also the moment where you take on the responsibility of protecting your homes and acting as examples for everyone around you. I'm certain that this will be the case".


Photography: Koral Dvir

Among the new aircrew members is Lt. Y', the first Ethiopian to graduate from the Flight Course – he is due to serve as a jet fighter WSO (Weapon Systems Officer). To celebrate the event, Ethiopian officials arrived at the ceremony as the IAF Commander's guests of honor. "Your presence here is an important message regarding the place of our brothers, the Ethiopian Jews, in the IDF and the Israeli society", emphasized Maj. Gen. Norkin. "More and more Ethiopians are serving in the IAF as time goes by. I'm proud of them just as I am proud of Lt. Y', who will soon be a jet fighter WSO".

New Aircrew Members
The graduation ceremony marked the 70th anniversary of Operation "Horev", in which the IAF performed attack, reconnaissance and surveillance sorties in liberation of the Negev Desert. Over 17 days of operation, which marked the ending of the 1948 War of Independence, IAF aircraft dropped 266.5 tons of bombs on 12 Egyptian targets. The IAF's activity was a significant step towards the Israel-Egypt Armistice Agreement in February of 1949.


Photography: Koral Dvir

After the traditional hat toss and the awarding of the pilot wings, an impressive aerial demonstration occurred in honor of the IAF's new aircrew members. "Baz" (F-15) from the 106th ("Tip of the Spear") Squadron demonstrated dogfights, and afterwards the "Shimshon" (Super Hercules C-130J) performed a supply drop. "Saraf" (Apache Longbow AH-64) helicopters demonstrated precise fire while "Yanshuf" (Black Hawk) helicopters and SAR (Search-and-Rescue) Unit 669 demonstrated evacuation of casualties. The aerial demonstration was sealed with an aerobatic demonstration performed by the IAF Aerobatic Team and an "Adir" (F-35I) flyby.