Pilot's vertigo may have caused the F-16I crash that killed two IAF airmen last week, according to initial assessments by experts. The Head of Ma'aleh Efraim Military Academy, Rabbi Ze'ev Sharon, a former Pilots Course trainee himself, explained the phenomenon in an interview with Arutz Sheva's Hebrew service.
Vertigo, he explained, is a loss of spatial orientation and sense of balance as a result of the high speed at which a jet fighter travels and spins that it executes.
“Vertigo is a well known scientific phenomenon, that occurs when the pilot loses his orientation," he said. "At that moment he need to ignore his senses, that deceive him, and look only at the indicators that show him that the jet is crashing downwards, not going upward.”
Rabbi Sharon compared the phenomenon to everyday optical illusions. “Sometimes the moon appears huge when it is rising, and an hour later it seems smaller. This is an illusion caused by the fact that when we look at the moon on the horizon, against a background of other objects, it appears bigger than it does when it is in the center of the sky.”
While aircraft crashes understandably receive much attention, Rabbi Sharon said, the rate of disasters in aircraft is lower than in other military vehicles. “The loss of pilots and military men is an irreplaceable one, but this is a reality that exists as part of soldiers' preparation for war,” he noted.