Ever imagine that you're Tom Cruise in Top Gun taking to the skies in a fighter jet? Now you can channel your inner "Maverick " with a few hours in the first civilian F-16 fighter jet simulator in Israel wearing a flight suit and flying in one of the Israel Air Force’s best fighter planes.
“This is a two and a half hour adventure,” CEO and Founder Col.(res.) Kobi Regev told The Jerusalem Post on Monday at The Squadron Center in Cinema City Glilot near Herzilya.
A former F-16 fighter pilot, Regev told the Post
that he first thought up the idea of The Squadron when he was a squadron commander and saw the excitement civilians had when they came to visit.
“This center is a dream come true,” Regev said, explaining that his “vision” was to bring the core of the Air Force’s organizational culture to everyone in Israel.
“It’s not just seeing the aircraft and the technology but mainly meeting the pilots and asking questions.”
Located on the VIP floor the Cinema City, The Squadron has dressing rooms where visitors get dressed in a flight suit, 10 F-16 flight simulators, briefing and debriefing rooms all named after strategic IAF operations.
The Squadron not only has group and individual flight simulations, but youth programs, company and organizational “fun days,” as well as courses and workshops for organizations which are taught by Air Force pilots and Dr. Alex Berber-an expert in consulting and organizational development and former organizational consultant of the IAF.
According to Regev, the center is not only a simulator hall, but an “educational squadron” with reserve IAF pilots and F-16 simulator instructors who can not only instill a love of flying into youth, but teach them and adults how to cope with challenging tasks.
The center’s youth programs are based on the methodology and organizational culture of the IAF and offer a course on the basics of flying and includes flights in the simulators. The program, which is suitable for students from the 8th-10th grade includes 20 sessions.
“This center will encourage youth to again love and experience the aerospace environment, to love flying planes...everyone goes to cyber and computers today and I believe that this center will encourage will engage more with aerospace,” Regev said of the youth programs.
“We are using simulators as a mean to demonstrate how you can improve your performance,” Regev said, explaining that the courses at the center target mainly for the youth to learn “the importance of being accurate, professionalism, how to work as a team, how to encourage the learning mechanism, the debriefing sessions which will teach them how to learn from their mistakes.”
The center is also open for tourists, and according to Regev, they have been in contact with Birthright about bringing participants to the center in the future.
“Imagine, you put on a flight suit, get a personalized name tag for the flight suit, I give you a strategic assessment of the region and then you can fly over Israel in an F-16. You can fly over Jerusalem, over Masada all in your own F-16. It’s an incredible experience,” he said.
Opened only four months ago, there has been over 4,000 visitors and the next two months are already fully booked. According to Regev, while the center is only in its infancy, there are plans to open similar centers in The United States and in Asia.
“We have big plans because what you see here is unique.”
With the F-16C/D Barak, and one of the most advanced F16s ever built, the F-16I Soufa, Israel flies the largest contingent of F-16s
outside the United States, with close to 300 jets. All the aircraft have been heavily modified with Israeli-made avionics, self-protection systems, radar and advanced weapons such as the Python 4 & 5 air-to-air missiles and the Popeye & Spice AGM's.
The first four F-16A/Bs landed in Israel in July of 1980 and achieved IOC a few weeks later. Since then the F-16A/Bs have been used extensively in combat, and of the 67 kills achieved by the F-16 world-wide, 47 are accredited to Israel’s F-16A/Bs.
According to a statement given to The Jerusalem Post, the F16A/Bs “changed the operational capacity of the Air Force. With agility, maneuverability and power, and with pilots who are among the highest recognized of all time, the jet changed the face of the Middle East.”
The fleet ushered in a whole new era for the Israel Air force, one that continues to this day, the ability to carry out pre-emptive strikes at enemies far from Israel’s borders.https://www.pilots.co.il/
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