From the US classroom to the IAF's pilot seats

Capt. N.: "The war made it clearer for us why we are here and why we are doing what we are doing."

pilot iaf uf 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
pilot iaf uf 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
They both spent their teen years in the United States, made friends, went to high school and established lives. They were, however, drawn back to Israel and on Tuesday they received their officer ranks after completing the IDF's prestigious Israel Air Force pilot's course. Speaking to The Jerusalem Post ahead of the ceremony at the IAF's Hatzerim Base near Beersheba, Lt. N. and Capt. N. reminisced on the lives they left behind in Boston and Virginia and talked excitedly about receiving their wings and taking to the skies as members of Israel's finest. Both officers spent four years in the US together with their parents who were sent there as members of Israeli defense delegations. Capt. N., who before joining the pilots' course and completing the elite Talpiot technological military course, went to high school in Virginia. Today he says, most of his friends are working or completing doctorates and masters degrees. It is funny, he says, looking at where his friends are today and where he is. "I never even imagined becoming an IAF pilot," said Capt. N., who has been qualified to fly fighter jets. After completing the Talpiot course, Capt. N. said he was hungry to join a combat unit and was offered a spot in the pilots' course. He said that while both courses were diametrically different, he believed that his experience in Talpiot would assist him in being a first-class fighter pilot. Lt. N. said he stayed in touch with his friends back in Boston and plans one day to return to the US, if not to live there, then at least to meet his friends again. He too said that he never imagined becoming an IAF pilot when growing up in the US. "It just wasn't on my mind," he said. "Life there is much different." This past summer's war in Lebanon they said, instilled within them a feeling of excitement while watching from the sidelines as fighter pilots took to the air to bomb Hizbullah targets. The IAF carried out close to 9,000 sorties during the 33 days of fighting. "We heard stories from our instructors about the war and it instilled within us a feeling of anticipation since we know that we are going to do a job that has a lot of significance," said Lt. N., who will become a transport helicopter pilot. "I know that I will be performing important missions like transporting soldiers and evacuating the wounded." Capt. N. agreed. "The war made it clearer for us why we are here and why we are doing what we are doing," he said.•