Israel Air Force Commander Maj.-Gen. Amikam Norkin awarded a certificate to two pilots Tuesday night for their actions after losing the canopy of their F-15 fighter jet at 9,000 meters during a training flight.The pilot, Capt. Y., and the navigator, Lt. R., had taken off from the Tel Nof airbase near Rehovot and headed south during a nighttime training flight in January. During the flight, the canopy suddenly detached for unknown reasons, leaving the two pilots exposed to severe cold of -45°C, violent turbulence and deafening noise.The pilots, who were having difficulty communicating with one another, slowed their damaged plane and began an orderly descent toward the airbase, where they landed safely.“The crew performed exceptionally well under extreme flight conditions and prevented the loss of the aircraft and carried out a safe landing,” the IAF said, adding that “in doing so, the team demonstrated composure, professionalism and courage.“The Air Force Commander’s Award is given to an air crew following an extraordinary flight operation that exceeds expectations and job requirements.” A senior officer in the IAF said at the time that there were no indications or warnings before the canopy detached.“At what height are you going to stay at?” a voice is heard saying in an audio recording of the incident later released by the IAF.This is followed by the sound of the cockpit detaching and subsequent screaming, before Y. is heard telling the ground controller “coming in for a landing at the nearest base without a canopy. Please confirm.”R. asked the pilot if he was okay, who screamed back “Yes, everything is alright.” The navigator then confirmed that he was fine as well. They then decided to slow down their speed to 200 knots, and recontacted the tower to inform them that they were heading to the airbase for “an immediate landing” at Nevatim airbase east of Beersheba.“The pilot, Capt. Y., and the navigator, Lt. R., conducted the event in complex conditions where there was a real risk to the plane and crew,” the IDF said at the time. “The plane’s crew was in full control throughout the incident, acted with level-headedness, professionalism and great skill in handling the rare malfunction, and landed the plane safely at the Nevatim airbase.”Most of the IAF’s F-15s were acquired in the second half of the 1970s, with a more advanced squadron of the F-15 arriving here in the 1990s.The IAF is expected to soon place orders on several new aircraft to upgrade its aging squadrons, including a new model of the F-15IA from Boeing.