IAF Flight School Graduates its 161st Class in Ceremony Today

161st Flight School Graduation Ceremony, December 2010

“Our most valuable weapon is you, our pilots and navigators. You are our guarantee to safety”

– Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, IAF Flight School Graduation, 30 December 2010

The IAF Flight School Graduation Ceremony was held today (Thursday, December 30th) at the IAF Hazerim base where the new pilots were awarded their ‘flight wings’. The ceremony marks the end of a three-year course that includes officer and pilot training as well as an academic degree from Ben-Gurion University. The President of the State of Israel, Mr. Shimon Peres, Minister of Defense, Mr. Ehud Barak, Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and IAF Commander, Maj. Gen. Ido Nehushtan attended the ceremony as did the graduates’ families, guests and IAF staff.

161st Flight School Graduation Ceremony, December 2010

The IAF Flight School is widely considered to be one of the most prestigious and challenging paths to take in the IDF, and its graduates are an elite few who have passed three years of grueling tests as cadets. Among the graduates are three females, one of whom will be a combat navigator, and the other two who will be pilots.

Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi spoke at the ceremony and noted that, “I have seen the most advanced weapons in the IAF and the most sophisticated planes that can reach any destination. Even after observing the capabilities of planes like the “F-15I” and the “Hercules” and flying in both of them, I am still convinced that our most valuable weapon is you – our pilots and navigators. You are our guarantee to safety and thanks to you we continue to march upwards during times of need. You and your partners in the IAF will be there to protect our existence in this country.”

IAF Commander, Maj. Gen. Ido Nehushtan noted that, “courage in the skies and strong roots in the ground are the essence of the IAF’s legendary legacy. Now you are part of it, as aircrew fighters. Dear graduates, the ‘[flight] wings’ also symbolize the high expectations of your future. Today you are joining the most elite of our fighters; those fighters whom the people of Israel entrust with their safety every day.”

For more information about this and other IDF ceremonies, please visit the “Ceremonies and Formal Events” Flickr album here.

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