IAF takes first place in biannual American Hercules competition

Col. (res.) Avshalom: "Coming in [at] first place shows the world that the IAF is one of the best."

hercules c 130 248.88 (photo credit: )
hercules c 130 248.88
(photo credit: )
While some might call him a good luck charm, Col. (res.) Avshalom says he's just your average Israel Air Force navigator. But last week, he led an IAF team to victory in the Air Mobility RODEO 2009 competition in the United States, taking home the Col. Joe M. Jackson Trophy for best C-130 air crew. RODEO, a biannual event that brings transport and mobility air crews from around the world together for several days of competitions, tests the teams' expertise in landing, locating drop zones and parachuting equipment. Last week, an Israeli C-130 Hercules transport aircraft flew to McChord Air Force Base in Washington. The team was led by Lt.-Col. Micha, commander of a Hercules squadron stationed in the Nevatim Air Force Base in the Negev. The IAF began flying C-130s in the 1970s and has attended RODEO a total of seven times, last appearing in 1996. Twelve air crews from eight countries, including the US, Germany, Spain and Belgium, participated in the competition. Saudi Arabia and Oman also sent air crews, to observe the competition. The competition consisted of three flights, during which the teams were to navigate to specific positions and parachute both heavy and light payloads onto exact coordinates. Avshalom, a veteran navigator and a member of the first Israeli crew to win the competition in 1990, flew to the US last week to join the IAF team once again and lead it to victory. One of the categories the teams were tested in is the amount of time they spend over a drop zone, with the objective to stay for as little time as possible. In a total of four drops, the Israeli crew loitered over the zones for a total of six seconds. "Coming in [at] first place shows the world that the IAF is one of the best," Avshalom said Tuesday. "The US commander sent a team onto our plane to see how we succeeded in doing it."