Pilots fly on themselves, that's a fact. And actually, why shouldn't they fly? After all, a pilot experiences superhuman sensations when he spreads his wings, looks down on all of us and feels closest to God. Maybe even a bit like God - because not every person at the age of 20 gets the ability to fly in the sky and drop a bomb that will kill people with the push of a button.
There was once a president of Israel who said, "The good for flying and the good for pilots," and this assertion was rooted in Israeli society. Generation after generation, ordinary people, like us, walked around thinking that the overalls were being lifted from the people. An advertisement for perfection. Or as former pilot and IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz said in the docuseries "The One," which premiered last night at the corporation, about the mood before the Yom Kippur War: "We felt that we were the kings of the world."
IDF soldiers take cover during the Yom Kippur War, in the northern sector, Photo: Zeev Spector / GPO
The war cracked the sense of superiority for the first time. "The One" - the invested four-part series created by Sima Kadmon, Amnon Rabi and director Gilad Tokatly - describes in detail the process that Phantom Squadron 201 went through in that war, the squadron that shot down the most enemy planes but its commanders disbanded, 14 pilots and navigators were taken prisoner, 7 were killed and 15 of its planes crashed and were abandoned.
"The One" is based on intriguing interviews, makes it accessible and uses rare archives to reconstruct the course of the fighting. It is a historical document that embraces pilots, while at the same time presenting multiple flaws - from panic attacks and tactical mistakes to dilemmas in following orders.
Lately, there has been a lot of talk about pilots. The divine image has become a thing of the past as government studio shouters slander, disparage and attach nicknames. If at the time we flew on pilots almost as much as they flew on themselves, today there are those among us who find it difficult to internalize that these are ordinary people with political opinions, fears and anxieties.
IDF force in Sinai during the Yom Kippur War; Courtesy of the IDF and Defense Establishment Archives, photo: Avi Simhoni,
It turns out that already 50 years ago, pilots considered refusing orders they did not like. The squadron commander fainted during the Shin hour and was not functional, his replacement Ron Huldai could not withstand the pressure, others escaped, revealed secrets in captivity, suffered panic attacks and carried trauma.
These revelations are what's good about "The One" – an excellent series that must be watched. A docu that does not fall into the old-fashioned cliché that seeks to portray pilots as perfect creatures, nor treats them as ungrateful elites as portrayed on Channel 14 – but simply shatters a gritty and historical image, showing them as flesh-and-blood people.
One, Kan 11, 21:15 p.m.
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