From difficult landings to special rescue operations, the IDF’s crew chiefs can handle any challenge in the air. We joined them aboard a helicopter and watched them in action.
Earlier this month, Israel Air Force soldiers passed their final examinations, marking the last stage in the IDF’s tough seven-month course for crew chiefs. In a helicopter exercise above the desert, the soldiers proved their skills, carrying out missions with soldiers from the Nahal Brigade and elite rescuers from the Airborne Rescue and Evacuation Unit 669.
Crew chiefs climb aboard a combat helicopter with fighters and expert rescuers
Although primarily trained as mechanics, crew chiefs are responsible for every detail of a helicopter mission. They lower soldiers into disaster zones during rescue operations, helping them save lives and treat injured victims below. In battle, they deliver reinforcements and resupply troops from the air, doubling as combat soldiers on the ground if necessary.
A crew chief directs an IDF soldier attached to the helicopter by a harness
During their recent flight, the soldiers carried out a range of complicated missions: activating the cockpit’s controls, managing the fuel system, operating essential systems like the rescue hoist, and fixing malfunctions during an emergency. In an important part of the exercise, the crew chiefs guided the helicopter’s pilots, helping them execute a difficult landing. Then, as the helicopter hovered at low altitude, they secured a rescue hoist attached to two soldiers waiting on the ground.
With rescuers by their side, crew chiefs get down to the business of handling the mission’s technical details
Major A, the commander of the crew chiefs’ course, described their importance in every helicopter mission. “Crew chiefs can handle any kind of problem or challenge,” he said. “They serve as fighters and play an integral role in missions alongside helicopter pilots. They’re essential for every operation that the helicopter crew carries out.”
Crew chiefs deliver soldiers into into the battlefield, helping them save lives on the ground
The course, which concluded with a ceremony last week, introduced a new class of crew chiefs to the ranks of the Israel Air Force. Throughout their training, they learned how to fight in combat, carry out search and rescue missions, and handle all the technical features of a helicopter. Their skills were also put to the test in a series of helicopter missions leading up to their final exam.
A crew chief puts on his helmet and gears up for his mission. There will be many more in the future.
Sergeant First Class Dan, one of the course’s graduates, described his excitement upon completing the difficult exercise. “Before the examination, we were extremely nervous. All of us were on pins and needles, but I really enjoyed it. Everything I learned in the past seven months came together in a two-and-a-half hour flight.”