Independence Day in the IAF09.05.2019 | The IAF Site
For Israel's 71st birthday, the IAF opened the gates of its airbases and invited the people of Israel to visit Ramat-David, the Technical Base, Tel-Nof and the IAF Museum in Hatzerim. Tens of thousands of people took the chance to visit the bases, enjoy the exhibitions and watch the traditional flyover.
Photography: Koral Dvir
From Operational Activity to Celebrating Independence
Approximately 105,000 visitors from all across the country came to Ramat-David. There, they saw various exhibitions of aircraft from several IAF divisions, accompanied by explanations from service members.
One of the aircrew members providing the passersby with in-depth elaboration regarding the exhibition was Lt. Y' from the 109th ("Valley") Squadron, which operates "Barak" (F-16D) fighter jets. "We came to explain about the 'Barak' aircraft and be nice to the people who came to see the air force and its instruments from up close", he said. For Lt. Y', the past week was busy with operational activity. "There's a big difference between a day in the squadron and a day like today, where we take a break from our usual activity in order to see the people we work to protect".
Photography: Ramat-David PR
A Base Painted Blue
Tel-Nof AFB in central Israel saw approximately 170,000 visitors – children and parents, as well as past and present service members. Among the exhibitions, one could see a Technical Division booth, air defense systems, a firefighter exposition and a wide variety of aircraft.
The base was filled with shades of blue – not just because of Independence Day. Dozens of children participating in the "Squadron Club" project put on blue shirts and received a tour of the base with some prior knowledge regarding the aircraft around them. The "Squadron Club" is a national program with 23 participants in the 5th and 6th grades. "The program is about empowerment and leadership", said Maya, mother to Noa, who participates in the program. "The program ties relationships between the children and the 114th ("Night Leaders") Squadron, which operates the "Yas'ur" (CH-53) helicopter.
Photography: Koral Dvir
Before arriving at Tel-Nof, the kids learned about the base and its aircraft, with an emphasis on the "Yas'ur". "I enjoyed seeing the 'Yas'ur' the most because I already know so much about it", said Noa, and added: "When I grow up, I want to be a pilot".
Both Old & New
At the same time, the Technical Base in Haifa had approximately 15,000 visitors – the exhibitions included a past-and-present aircraft show and explanations regarding the various aircraft systems. "The exhibitions and elaborations are excellent", said Sgt. Xenia Huliakov. "I came here even before I began serving in the IAF, and even as a soldier I still manage to enjoy it every year. However, those who have the most fun are the kids".
Photography: Eshel Naor
The Head of the IAF Materiel Directorate, Brig. Gen. Shimon Tsentsiper, came to the base to celebrate Independence Day with his family. "I love the exhibitions and the flyover", he said. In addition to the old timers, first-time visitors came to see the base as well.
As the "Atalef" (Panther) naval reconnaissance helicopter flew over the base, the pilot greeted the visitors: "For Independence Day, we IAF pilots would like to wish you a Happy Holiday! The IDF will continue to operate in all theatres – in air, land and sea. The 'Defenders of the West' Squadron wishes you a happy Independence Day".
The People Behind the Flyover
Approximately 11,600 people visited the IAF Museum in Hatzerim, where they enjoyed the Maintenance Division and advanced aircraft exhibitions, located alongside historic aircraft in the museum and a an Air Defense Array show.
Photography: Ramat David PR
Near the museum, in Hatzerim AFB itself, the force's aircrew members took off for the flyover. The "Lavi" (M-346) advanced trainer aircraft participated as well. "To me, participating in the IAF flyover means being a part of something big", said Lt. Y', a cadet at the 102nd ("Flying Tiger") Squadron's Fighter Division, who moved to Israel at the age of 19. "It's what I wanted to do when I decided to emigrate from Australia – bear an influence and take part".
"As a child, I would always wait for Independence Day so I could see the flyover", added Lt. S', a cadet at the 102nd Squadron's Fighter WSO (Weapon Systems Officers) Division. "Growing up and getting to take part in planning the flyover – it's exciting to me".