From practice to combat, Cobra helicopter pilot gets his wings

From practice to combat,

cobra pilot 248.88 (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson)
cobra pilot 248.88
(photo credit: IDF Spokesperson)
After three years of intensive training, Guy, 21, has just a few days left until he earns his Israel Air Force wings. His mission will be to pilot Cobra combat helicopters for the IAF and keep Israeli civilians safe from rocket attacks, as well as other terrorist activity. The Cobra helicopter is mainly used in counter- terrorism operations in Gaza, for what the Air Force describes as "continuous security missions." If a Hamas rocket-launching crew is identified by the IDF as it prepares to fire a projectile against a target in southern Israel, pilots like Guy will be dispatched to stop them. "If I strike accurately, I could save a kindergarten in Sderot. If I don't, the kindergarten could be hit," Guy said. "The main aim is to fire on terrorist activity from a long range, or prevent them from carrying out an attack from a relatively far distance," he said. "I'm prepared to take this responsibility on myself. I know it's a heavy burden to take on. But I've been waiting for three years for this. I've received the qualification, and now I'd very much like to give back." On Thursday, Guy will complete his pilot's training and make the transition from practice to real life combat operations. "It's a very interesting helicopter, and it's fun to fly," he said. "Unlike transport helicopters, combat pilots are carrying out the main mission," he added. When he was nine years old, Guy moved with his family to Los Angeles for four years, before returning to Israel. He has since kept in regular contact with his American Jewish friends. He notes the startling contrast between his path in the IAF and those of his friends in the US. "The gap is big. I hear about their college fraternity rituals, and then I talk about my training," he said. Some of his friends "think I'm in a James Bond film. But after a conversation, they understand the reality of it," he said. Guy is concerned over Israel's poor image on the world stage, and says he likes to use his English to explain the Israeli perspective to others. "Our hasbara is insufficient. There are many more things we can do," he said.