IAF Flight Academy cadets met with American astronaut Col. William McArthur last week when he paid a unique visit to the IAF Flight Academy. Col. McArthur is a veteran of three space shuttle missions and one expedition to the International Space Station via the Russian Soyuz capsule.
The NASA astronaut arrived in Israel for the Seventh International Ilan Ramon Space Conference held last week. He also visited the Israel National Museum of Science, Technology and Space in Haifa, and gave lectures to students in venues all over Israel.
Col. McArthur began his career in the US Army, where he served as a helicopter pilot and studied advanced aeronautics.
The IAF pilot cadets – who are in the initial phases of training, and still learning basic flight techniques – expressed an interest in the space program, and asked Col. McArthur questions about life as an astronaut and the long journey required of those who wish to become astronauts.
Head IAF Flight Academy instructor, Lt. Col. Peleg, showed Col. McArthur around the Hatzerim Airbase, and briefed him on the IAF's capabilities – with a focus on the 107th F-16i squadron that operates from Hatzerim and goes by the name "The Knights of the Orange Tail."
In his lectures across Israel, the American astronaut said that "we live in a time when more people than in the past may have the opportunity to get to space." He encouraged participants to invest in science studies that would improve their chances of successfully participating in the growing field of outer space endeavor.
When asked about the most appealing factor in exploring outer space, Col. Mc Arthur answered that "the human race is always interested in expanding and seeing what exists beyond the horizon. If I stayed in one place, I would get bored. I will always want to climb the mountain and find out what is there."
Col. McArthur said that while every flight to space will always be interesting and special, he hopes that one day, the flights will become something that interests "more than just a few people."