Published on: February 1, 2018
The Israeli Air Force Pilots Course is an intensive three-year-long course at the Flight Academy at the Hatzerim Air Base in southern Israel. During the three years, cadets go through five stages, four of which are six-months-long and one which is a year long. The Air Force Flight Academy trains air crews in five major aviation professions: pilots, navigators, transportation pilots, helicopter pilots, and combat pilots. At the end of the flight course, the finalists will be required to sign a permanent service for seven years.
1. The "Preparatory" Stage
The main goal of this stage is to provide the cadets with a course that teaches them how to be soldiers and fighters in the IDF and in the Israeli Air Force (IAF).
The Pilots Course cadets learn to adhere to military discipline, order, and punctuality during the preparatory stage, which includes eight weeks of basic training. During the basic training period, cadets undergo difficult infantry training, participate in firing exercises, and learn how they react to stressful situations
This is also the stage where the cadets go for their first flight. They go thought a month of sorting flights (checks) on Grob G 120s, which are designed to test the Pilots Course cadets’ ability to fly aircraft in the future.
In addition, during the preparatory stage, the cadets are in the Aviation Studies Brigade, where they remain for the whole the course. Courses of study at this stage last six weeks and include topics such as mathematics, physics, and aerodynamics.
2. The "Basic" Stage
At this stage, emphasis is placed on training cadets how to be officers, with the understanding that everyone is first and foremost an officer.
During this stage, the cadets continue their intense infantry training in addition to rescue and parachuting courses (at the end of which they earn their parachutist badge). The courses are done in small teams, which are led by experienced air crew.
In addition to their physical training, the cadets go through a series of six-week academic courses in aerodynamics, airplane structure, and other basic subjects that they use in the flight academy.
At the end of the basic stage there is another check stage, followed by placement in the various flight formations. In this stage the checks are carried out on more advanced and complex aircraft. Checks for combat pilots cadets will be conducted on M-346 “Lavi” aircraft, for the helicopter pilot cadets on Bell 206 “Sayfan” helicopters, and the navigators (CSOs) are tested on B200 King Air ‘Tsufit’ airplanes.The formation check is carried out on a Boeing 707 or a Lockheed C-130 Hercules. Cadets who pass continue on to a designated training course in the IAF's Hercules and the Boeing 707.
All of their hard work pays off at the end of the basic stage when the cadets have a ceremony on Masada and receive their IAF pins.
3. “Preliminary” flight skills
The third stage of the course focuses on the basic plane operating skills. Unlike previous phases on the ground, this phase is mainly made up of flights. Academic studies are dispersed throughout this period.
The Aviation Studies Brigade teaches flight mechanics, computer applications, introduction to statistics and management and algebra, in accordance with the flight formation.
4. The Year of Education
At the end of the preliminary stage, the cadets officially begin their academic studies at the Flight Academy and earn credits towards their bachelor’s degree. They hear from lecturers who teach at universities all over Israel.
Though academic courses are spread throughout the course, this stage is devoted entirely to intensive academic studies. The academic year is divided into three semesters, all of which end in final exams, just like university outside of the army.
Based on their academic scores, preferences, and other factors, cadets are assigned to one of the following academic tracks: Mathematics and Computer Science, Information Technology and Management, Economics and Management, Politics, Government and Management. They also take courses that include lectures on physics, aerodynamics, meteorology, weapon systems and navigation, and the history of the IDF and the Israeli Air Force.
5. The “Advanced" Stage
During the final stage of the course, the cadets fly in the IAF's operational aircraft and acquire advanced flight skills. At the same time, they complete their degrees and study weapon systems, which is the last subject in the framework of the Aviation Studies Brigade.
At the end of the advanced stage, the cadets become lieutenants, get their wings, and officially become pilots.