The fearless soldiers of the Israeli Air Force have recently shared an amazing story of bravery and courage. But of course, for them, it’s just another day in the life of an IAF pilot.
When an F-16 arrives on a landing strip, you can’t help but wonder–can planes be traumatized? Seven years have gone by since it crashed. Now, after its wheels were paralyzed for a long period of time, after not touching the landing strip, it finally gets the chance to start its engines, waiting at the end of the strip for its chance to fly up, up and away. This time, its cockpit holds a particularly emotional pilot and navigator: the two air crew members who ditched the plane–one the most traumatic experiences a pilot can have–return to take off in it again…
Pictures from 2005 speak for themselves. Split Seconds before touching ground, the 041′s right wheel detached and the crew was forced to abandon the aircraft as it trembled along the landing strip. The F-16 041 was headed straight to the ‘E.R’ unit of the aerial maintenance crew. “When it arrived, we couldn’t believe it was even fixable..” says warrant officer Eldad, head of the rehabilitation project.
Everything said and done, the people of the Aerial Maintenance Unit didn’t give up. After years of treatment and replacing hundreds of components, F-16i 041 finally took off toward home, back to the “Valley” Squadron. “I’m standing here by the plane, and realizing how many people were affected by this crash”, smiles Major (Res.) Ofer, the pilot who was ejected from the plane before the crash. “It’s hard to believe that everything went back to the way it was”. Ofer walks toward the plane he hesitantly ditched, and carefully climbs to the cockpit. “I’m excited, but not nervous. In the years that passed, I realized how much my life is dependent on the people around me, how the engineer who examined the chair and the technicians who tested the systems saved my life. Were just one component not to work, I wouldn’t be here.”
Originally posted by the Israeli Air Force: