Flight Academy

When the Independence War came to an end, there came an urgent need for aircrews in the IDF for the proliferation of the IAF's force. In October of 1949, the IAF's Flight Academy was established in Sirkin AFB, with the first flight course graduation occurring in August of 1950. The Flight Academy was relocated to Tel-Nof AFB five years later.

The Move South
The IDF strived to concentrate all instructional AFBs in the Negev as part of the realization of David Ben-Gurion's vision, so that most of the active force would be situated close to the main enemy at the time: Egypt. It is because of this, amongst other considerations, that a decision had been made to establish a fourth AFB for the IAF in Hatzerim. It was decided that the Flight Academy would be the first structure to staff the base, and the Flight Academy began the relocation to Hatzerim AFB in October, 1966.

The Flight Academy cadets continued their participation in operational activity after the relocation to the new base. During the Six Day War, it operated "Fouga" (CM-170 Magister) aircraft, which performed attack missions on radar stations, anti-air cannons, and artillery batteries. In addition, the "Fouga" (CM-170 Magister) aircraft provided close assistance to the ground forces.

New Training Aircraft: The "Ayit", "Tzukit", and "Zamir"
Following the need to adjust the fighting branch's training program to the IAF's modern aircraft, a decision was made to replace the flight course's advanced stage active aircraft - the "Fouga" - with two-seat "Ayit" (Skyhawk) aircraft. In 1982, the Flight Academy began integrating the improved "Fouga" aircraft. During that same year, the organized operation of the "Zamir" (B-80) branch in the flight school was approved.

The 90s brought along a series of changes in the Flight Academy's helicopter pilot training. In 1990, the advanced fighter helicopter course was established, with the "Lahatut" (MD-500) acting as the main training helicopter. In 1996, "Tzefa" (AH-1 Cobra) helicopters were integrated into the course, replacing the recently decommissioned "Lahatut" (MD-500).

Incorporating an Academic Degree in the Flight Course
In the early 2000s, an effort was made to modify the Flight Course's training program while integrating the concept of academic degrees. In July of 2002, a ceremony in honor of the IAF's new flight academy took place, with Lt. Gen. Danny Halutz acting as then commander of the IAF, Prof. Nahum Feiger, rector of the Be'er Sheva University, the university's staff and other commanders. This ceremony marked the plan's official implementation, which began with the enlistment of the cadets of Course 150.

Changes were also made to the Flight Academy's aircraft. The "Snunit" (Grob G-120A) replaced the "Piper", with the first "Snunit" aircraft arriving at the flight school in 2002.

The "Tzukit" Departs
Extra changes were made to the Flight Academy's aircraft included the replacement of the "Anafa" (UH-1N) transport helicopter with the "Yanshuf" (Black Hawk) in 2003. That same year, the "Tzofit" (Beechcraft B-200) replaced the "Zamir" (Beechcraft B-80). In July of 2009, the Flight Academy began integrating the "Efroni" (Beechcraft T-6 Texan II), which replaced the "Tzukit" as the fighting division's instructional aircraft. In 2010, the "Tzukit" was officially decommissioned in 2010, after 50 years of service.