Omri Casspi to teach IAF value of sleeping, eating well

In effort to cut combat air accidents, IAF launches sleep seminar, will use famous athletes to educate pilots in maintaining healthy lifestyle.

June 15, 2011 03:22
2 minute read.
Omri Casspi

Casspi 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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In an effort to cut combat air accidents, the Israel Air Force has launched a sleep seminar and is using famous athletes to educate pilots in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

The sleep seminar is the brainchild of Brig.-Gen. Eden Atias, commander of the Nevatim Air Force Base southeast of Beersheba, where fighter pilots spend a year of training aboard older F-16 A/B models before being sent to the IAF’s various fighter squadrons.

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In 2009, Capt. Assaf Ramon – son of Israeli astronaut Col. Ilan Ramon, who died in the Columbia shuttle disaster – was killed when the F-16 he was flying crashed into the South Hebron Hills. The IAF concluded that G-force induced loss of consciousness – commonly known as G-LOC – was the cause of the crash.

G-LOC is a term used to describe unconsciousness caused by excessive G-force that drains blood from the brain. Another possibility is that Ramon suffered from a “blackout,” a term referring to a loss in vision while still conscious. For this reason, for example, pilots wear specially-designed G-suits to prevent blood from being drained from the brain.

The three-day seminar – called “Being Responsible” – opens with a flight on an F-16 and then an additional four flights on simulators while deprived of sleep. The pilots are carefully watched by their commanders to ensure that they do not doze off.

“They fly every few hours and gradually see how the lack of sleep is affecting them and their flight and making it more difficult,” a senior IAF officer said on Tuesday. “Pilots sometimes need to fly three sorties a day and need to succeed during each one.”

The upcoming seminar will be held later this summer and pilots are scheduled to meet with Sacramento Kings forward and Yavne native Omri Casspi, who will describe his lifestyle to the pilots and explain to them how being an athlete affects the way he sleeps and eats. Each pilot will also meet with a dietitian and personal trainer.

“Athletes are role models since they need to live their lives responsibly if they want to succeed and we are trying to explain to the pilots that each and every one of them chose to be a pilot and with that is a certain level of responsibility,” the officer said.

Meanwhile, Tuesday, the Military Police investigation into the theft of parts from eight different F-15 and F-16 engines that were stolen from the Tel Nof Air Force Base near Rehovot several months ago.

The parts were allegedly stolen by metal dealers who were allowed into the base to clear out other parts but not the engines. There are suspicions that soldiers who serve in the base were involved and assisted the criminals.

Since the engines are manufactured in the US, the Defense Ministry contacted the Pentagon and updated it about the theft and the ongoing investigation.

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