Taking to Israel's skies: From aliya to flyby

Ukrainian immigrant pilot to join squadron in Independence Day flyover.

Israel Air Force planes fly over Tel Aviv.  (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
Israel Air Force planes fly over Tel Aviv.
The skies over Israel are not those that one of the pilots set to fly in this year’s Independence Day flyover looked up at as a child.
Major “G,” whose full name military procedure does not allow, emigrated from Ukraine at the age of 15. “It’s going to be one of the most meaningful things I will ever do,” he told The Jerusalem Post ahead of the holiday.
This first Independence Day flyover in an F-15 Ra’am, he believes, will make him “feel extremely proud, not only to be part of the air force but also pride as a citizen of Israel that we have such an air force. To fly over the entire country and know that all these people are watching us – it’s important for us as pilots. While it is important for all pilots who take part, for me, as someone who wasn’t born here it’s even more important.”
Military parades were held in Israel for Independence Day every year from 1949 through 1968. Another parade, the last to be held, was staged on the state’s 25th anniversary in 1973.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last year suggested reviving the parades. Speaking at an event to honor 120 outstanding soldiers, Netanyahu recalled those he saw as a child and said: “A military parade on Independence Day in Jerusalem – that’s the basis of our independence, those soldiers.”
But such parades are unlikely to return, but the Israel Air Force flyovers remain.
According to “G,” it is imperative that the ceremonial flights continue, especially at a time when there is so much discord in the country.
“When we take to the skies, we show the citizens of Israel that we are strong and we are behind them and the country,” he said.
Aerial displays of squadrons flying at high-speed are among the most popular events of Independence Day. Millions throughout the country watch as formations of IAF Aviation Acrobatics team jets, transport aircraft and helicopters pass overhead.
At least three of the five F-35 stealth fighters that will make up the Adir Squadron, though not yet operational, will make their debut in the Independence Day flyover.