I was the only pilot in that war who had extracted himself out
Since several people asked, below is the English translation of my father telling his personal story as a pilot in the Yom Kippur war. The short interview was conducted in 2015 by Israeli newspaper Globes.
“When the war started, I was a 24 year old Technion student and a young reserve force pilot in the 102 squadron. I was one of four pilots who attacked huge enemy forces north of Suez — two Egyptian armies that had crossed the canal. When the time had come, I attacked my target and descended with strong maneuvers, in order to dodge enemy missiles but ended up taking a hit to the tail while flying low”.
“The steering wheel was jammed. I realized I had no control over the aircraft as it dived and spun to the right. I ejected myself and bailed out. I was in the air for less than 3 seconds because of the low altitude and crashed on the ground. On the ground, I could see an enemy tank getting closer. I immediately detached myself from the ejection seat and ran until I managed to evade the tank. While ejecting from the plane, my kneecaps were damaged by the speed. This was a very common injury among Skyhawk pilots, which bailed out at such a high speed. I could only straighten my right arm to a 45° angle. I tried to operate my radio to call for help but it didn’t work. A desperate situation indeed.”
“I pulled further away from what seemed to be the front line of the war and started walking. To take my mind of the pain, I put on a transistor headset I owned and listened to Arab stations with war songs until eventually I found a station that played a beautiful violin concert. If things weren’t so bad, walking at night under a starry sky with a music like that could have been a beautiful thing. After five and a half hours of walking, I finally saw an Israeli tank in the distance. I was the sole pilot in that war who had extracted himself out.”
“I was worried our forces will shoot me so lit myself with my flashlight and yelled ‘I’m a pilot, I’m a pilot’, then they realized I was one of them. While I was evacuated, I suddenly wasn’t able to move my legs anymore. I was flown back to my country by a helicopter. I had torn leg ligaments. The ligaments were repaired by surgery and only after being hospitalized for eight months did I start to gain back my leg movement.”
-How were you affected by this experience?
“I have learned that we posses strength we aren’t aware of, much greater then we think and when it is needed it can be summoned. In addition, knowing that, gave me a confidence boost in my abilities to do anything, if needed.”
“As I lay in the hospital bed I told myself that if I’ll get to walk again, I will no longer be upset with nonsense and take it all Stoically, but unfortunately you forget all about it after a few months and go right back to losing proportions.”