We were escorted on eye-opening excursions to three IASF bases--Ramat David in the north of the country, Tel Nof in the center, and Hatzerim in the south--and we were treated to a fascinating tour of the IAFC's home in Herzliya.
Headquartered in an attractive building, complete with modern library, comprehensive archive of unclassified IASF documents, ample theater, spacious meeting rooms, and somber memorial hall, we discovered that the IAFC is a multipurpose entity.
It also cares for the widows and orphans of the fallen, assists IASF personnel to find positions in the civilian economy, functions as a meeting place for veterans to come together, maintains contacts with foreign air forces, and reaches out to disadvantaged youth.
We also listened to some young IASF officers tell their personal stories.
I had the honor of sitting at the same table as three IASF giants: Gen.
Two days later, the final stop on our visit to the IASF took us to Hatzerim, a large base just west of Be'er Sheva, which is home to the air force s flight academy, for Flying School Class 154's graduation ceremony.
Prior to the graduation ceremony, the group was able to examine a line-up of past and present IASF aircraft.
Following short speeches by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, interim President Dalia Itzhik, IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, and IASF Commander Eliezer Shkedy, each cadet was called forward by name to receive his or her wings to the cheers of the crowd.
Here, I must say that I found the food on IASF bases--we ate one meal each at Tel Nof, Ramat David, and Hatzerim--to be tasty and nutritious, much better than I had a right to expect.