The Kings of the Air

Sde Dov Airbase

• Cessna
• Islander
• Beechcraft Queen Air (Known in Hebrew as the “Zamir”, meaning “Nightingale”)
• Beechcraft RC12-D Guardrail (Known in Hebrew as the “Kukia” meaning “Cukoo”)
• Socata TB-20 Trinidad (Known in Hebrew as the “Pashosh”, meaning “Warbler”)
• Beechcraft King Air (Known in Hebrew as the “Tsufit”, meaning “Sunbird”).
• Beechcraft Bonanza A-36 (Known in Hebrew as the “Hufit”, meaning “Sandpiper”)

The "Kings of the Air" squadron was formed as a result of the splitting up of the "Flying Camel" Squadron. Following an increase in the number of light aircraft and the diversity of their tasks it was decided that the "Flying Camel" Squadron would be split, in order to allow specific aircraft to specialize in specific tasks. On 1st May 1974 the "Light Transport Squadron", known today as "The Kings of the Air" was established on Sde Dov Airfield. After the split the Dornier DO 27s and the DO 28Bs remained in the "Flying Camel" Squadron, and the Cessnas and Islanders were transferred to the "Light Transport” Squadron. It was decided that the "Light Transport” Squadron would focus on transporting VIPs within Israel, night and day. The IAF's first Beechcraft Queen Air was received with the opening of this new squadron.

During operation Litani in 1978 the squadron flew 88 patrol sorties and 35 transport flights. During the peace talks with Egypt the squadron transported members of the negotiating team to and from Cairo and Alexandria. During the First Lebanon War the majority of the squadron's missions remained transport missions. The squadron's mission was redefined with the acquisition of the Beechcraft RC12-D Guardrail for intelligence missions. These new aircraft arrived in November 1984 and received the Hebrew name "Kukia", meaning "Cukoo". On 18th December 1995 the unit received four Socata TB-20 Trinidad. They became known in Hebrew as the “Pashosh”, meaning “Warbler" and were intended to replace the Cessna. In addition to its transport mission, the squadron began to fly regular intelligence and photography flights.

On 20th March the last remaining Cessna 206s ended their service, following their sale to a private party in South Africa. This ended the period in which IAF flew Cessna aircraft, which had begun in 1966 with the purchase of a pair of Cessna 180s.

The IAF's first Beechcraft Bonanza A-36s were received by the squadron at the end of 2004, and were intended to take over from the Socata TB-20 Trinidads which were ending their service. It was also decided that the Bonanza would carry out photography and intelligence missions in place of the DO-28B.

Today the squadron operates the Guardrail, King Air and Bonanza. The King Air carries out observation, radio relay and Electronic Warfare missions, as well as acting as a training aircraft for pilots undergoing operational training for the squadron. The Bonanza A-36 carries out light transport, IMINT, photography and patrol missions, and the Guardrail carries out various patrol missions.
As has been said, the squadron provides an Operational Training Course for young transport pilots. The course lasts four months, beginning at the end of pilots’ course, and ending with the pilots’ absorption into their squadron. Until three years ago the course was carried out n the "Dakota" Squadron using the IAI Arava, and in the advances stages of the course the Beechcraft Queen Air. Today students in pilot school train on the King Air, so the Operational Training Course is also carried out on this aircraft. The course includes a month of commercial flight training and three months of practical training in the squadron.


The Kings of the Air
The Kings of the Air