The next generation of IAF soldiers recently visited an airbase, receiving a preview of their military service
Last week, the next generation of IAF enlistees visited the Ramat David Airbase, as part of the newly revived Gadna pre-enlistment program. Dozens of teens donned uniforms for the first time and visited two squadrons, meeting with soldiers whose shoes they might one day fill.
The IAF Gadna program, which in the past was an important path of entry into the Air Force, has undergone many changes since its inception in the 1950s. On its esteemed list of graduates, one can find past and present IAF commanders, including current IAF Commander Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel. The initial purpose of the IAF Gadna was to encourage enlistment in the pilot training program. However, as increasing numbers of young adults sought to enlist in the prestigious pilots' training course, the IAF Gadna's emphasis was moved to encouraging enlistment in the UAV pilot program and to familiarizing teens with the Air Force.
As the position of UAV pilot also became increasingly prestigious and sought after, the need for the IAF Gadna diminished, and it was rolled back. However, roughly six months ago, it was revived in a new format. The revived program includes the adoption of classrooms all over the country, seeking to enrich the students’ knowledge of the IAF.
Commanders, assigned from a newly developed branch of the IAF dedicated to the program, will guide classes for an entire year. Students will receive lectures regarding the IAF’s heritage, history, and values. In addition, students will receive professional education that includes classes in aerodynamics, along with visits to airbases and air defense batteries.
Students will finish the program with a voluntary three-day summer workshop that will provide a full army experience. They will receive uniforms, visit airbases and Iron Dome batteries, and experience flight through gliding at the Megiddo airstrip.
“Whoever takes part in Gadna will have the option to join the IAF, and we will help them do so,” said Maj. Liron Tabib, head of Gadna's IAF Division. “The goal is for students to recognize the depth of the IAF and experience it for themselves. We place an emphasis on personal growth and the values of the Air Force, while encouraging students to enlist,” said Lt. Neta Sheinkoff, an officer of the Air Force Gadna.