What Does it Take to Be a Pilot in Israel’s Elite Air Force?

“For I am mindful of the plans I have made concerning you—declares Hashem—plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a hopeful future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (The Israel Bible™)

Thirty-six students recently completed the 175th prestigious and challenging Israel Air Force (IAF) pilot course, which runs for three years. Major General Amikam Norkin joined the group on their test flights and stated, “Thirty years from now, one of you will stand here and assume the role of commander of the air force.”

Major General Norkin, a graduate of the 113th pilot course, will give the cadets their flying wings on the same parade grounds where he received his 30 years ago.

The IAF pilot’s course is the most stringent in the Israeli army; only 9 percent of the trainees who began the course actually completed the program. Data is shared each year about its graduates to partially assess their qualities. This year, the data included information about where the graduates grew up, their educational backgrounds, and their upbringings.

36 percent of the graduates live in cities, 22 percent live in local councils, 19 percent live in moshavim (villages with some shared responsibilities), 14 percent live in townships, and 9 percent live in kibbutzim (villages with a full share of responsibilities).

69 percent of the graduates come from the center of Israel, 28 percent from the north and 3 percent from the south.

69 percent of the graduates studied for a science major, 25 percent combined human and science studies, and 6 percent chose to study in the humanities.

28 percent chose to study for a degree in Mathematics and Computer Science, 22 percent in Politics and Government, and 19 percent in Economics and Management.

42 percent of the graduates are the eldest children in their family, 47 percent are the middle children and their families, and 11 percent are the youngest children in their family.

25 percent of course graduates are not the first members of their family to receive their flying wings.

58 percent of the graduates took part in activities in various youth movements – 57 percent were in Scouts, 5 percent were in Hanoar Haoved Vehalomed, 14 percent were in moshavim, 14 percent were in Bnei Akiva and 10 percent were in the agricultural union.

11 percent of graduates completed hesder yeshivas (combined Bible studies with army service).

Eight percent of the graduates are IDF veterans who served before the course in another position.

28 percent of the graduates play musical instruments.

9 percent of the trainees who started the flight course completed the program.

“The IAF of 2017 is a world leader in attack capabilities, aerial defense, UAVs and jointness with ground and naval forces,” stated retired Major General Eshel. “The IAF’s capabilities, in attack and defense, were tested over the past years in thousands of operations, five theatres, close ranges and thousands of kilometers away from home. Threats were foiled, targets were destroyed, rockets and aircraft were intercepted and downed.”

Major General Norkin pointed out, “Over the next few years the IAF will integrate advanced technology, expand its jointness and continue strengthening its relations with other air forces. But above all, in the next few years the IAF will nurture its personnel, deepen their feeling of belonging, ability to make a difference and sense of satisfaction from their work.”

To support Israeli soldier welfare, please donate here.