Ralph Higgins

Ralph Higgins
color pencil sketch by Gayle Higgins

Quotes I Like

"If you do not take an interest in the affairs of your government, then you are doomed to live under the rule of fools."

– Plato


Monday, May 20, 2013

Israeli Fighter Pilots

     It’s funny how a random thought will take you on a journey from thought to thought until you’re so far afield, you don’t know where you started.

            I saw a guy with an eye patch on TV last night and it reminded me of Rooster Cogburn, which reminded me of a wealthy guy at a church I attended who had a large construction company.  He was a giant of a man physically and wore a patch over one eye. 

            He said that one day he was driving his pickup with a Mexican worker in the seat next to him.  He was wearing his glass eye that day and not the patch.  He claims that the wind from the open window caught his glass eye in such a way that it popped out of his head and landed on the floorboard on the passenger’s side of the pickup.

            The Mexican worker was so terrified when he saw the eyeball rolling around by his feet that he leaped from the truck at 45 mph and was almost killed.  The poor guy regained consciousness briefly, but when he saw his boss leaning over him with an eye missing, he passed out again. 

            Reflecting on that situation led me to Moshe Dayan, another guy with an eye patch.  This then led me to thinking about Israel. How’s that for a strange segue?

            Israel is a tiny country surrounded by enemies.  Yet it seems that the entire world has turned against this little sliver of land huddled up against the Mediterranean Sea.  Its many and massive adversaries have vowed to push this tiny country the rest of the way into the sea.  But along with their hatred of Israel, its enemies seem to fear this little dot on the world map.

            Remember that great military leader, Moshe Dayan and the six-day war in 1967?  Dayan was an Israeli observer with the U.S. Marine Corp during the six-day war and wasn’t involved in planning the attack.  I seem to recall Dayan saying that Israel uses very young pilots, because they take risks that older pilots wouldn’t take. The world was amazed at the skill and bravery of the Israeli fighter pilots, who cleaned things up in less that a week.  There’s a good reason for using young pilots.

              Numerous studies by neurologists and other scientists have concluded that the human brain doesn’t mature until the age of 25. Makes you wonder why we pay any attention to the opinions of college kids. 

            The prefrontal cortex, i.e. the frontal lobes located behind the forehead, is considered the “C.E.O.” of the brain.  This area controls cognitive analysis, abstract thought, and monitors behavior, among other things.  This is the last region of the brain to mature in a human being - assuming it does mature.   

            Prior to the age of 25 the human brain is not fully developed.  This lack of development makes youngsters more likely to take risks.  Judgment is impaired.  That’s one reason drug use in kids is so common.  The brain is also very malleable in young people. You can call this lack of development cognitive deficiency, but even beyond that magic age of 25, we see cases of arrested development. Watch “man on the street” interviews for confirmation.

          Ironically, the slow development of the prefrontal cortex has advantages militarily.  Every Israeli kid gets drafted into the military at age 18.  Israeli pilots get 2 years of flight training, making the average fighter pilot 20 years old.  In the famous 6 day war, the brave pilots who took the risks to win that war were roughly 20 years old.  These young guys were willing to take risks that older pilots would avoid and it worked out very well. They did an amazing job as pilots.  I don’t think Israel lost a single pilot in those sorties. 

          Since 1967, additional training is required with an academic component tossed in, but Israeli pilots are still combat ready at 21 or 22 years of age.  That still keeps them below the 25 year threshold for the development of caution and rationality.  Most Israeli pilots are through flying by the age of 30.

        Wow.  It’s amazing how a simple recollection of an eyeball rolling on the floor can lead to heroic Israeli pilots.  Is it free association or a short circuit in my cerebral cortex?



  1. Imagine where your mind would go if your upper plate fell out!!!!!!!

    1. Ed - If you're talking about teeth, I still have mine. Ain't got no plate, Bro, but I'm still worried about where my mind actually went sometimes. I can remember what Moshe Dayan said a half century ago, but I can't remember why I went to the store.

    2. I believe you were looking for denture glue (for the future)!

    3. No. I was looking for birth control pills for Gayle. We're concerned that if we have a baby at our age, it would be 50 years old at birth.

  2. I cannot believe this writing and conversation went from eyeballs, Israeli fighter pilots, to teenagers, to a pregnancy after menopause, to dentures. tee hee. But I do see, and understand the flow. I THINK

    Maybe our draft was also targeted to those with a partially developed brain, so they didn't know what they were getting into. My Son went into the service at twenty years of age, and he was considered the 'old man' by the younger enlisted men.

    However, those younger enlisted men looked to him for leadership, direction, and protection.

    Those Israeli pilots may be risk takers, but I think there is someone higher in command on their side also.

    1. Sharon -
      There was no "flow" to that piece. I just started typing and remembering things as I went along. It started with Dayan and his eye patch, then I remembered something else, and finally got to where I meant to go, i.e. the development of the brain and the bravery of the Israeli fighter pilots.

      Have you ever walked into the kitchen for something, then remembered something in the living room, so you go to the living room and remember something in the bedroom, and ultimately forget what you were looking for originally? The structure of that piece was pretty bad, but I tend to write as things come to me. I was trying to make too many points.

    2. Sharon -
      I meant to add that I agree with your take on Israel. I think the biggest mistake our country can make is to betray Israel.

  3. Illegal occupation of Palestine will lead Israel for self destruction
    It's a road state won't last no matter how how much we spend on them

    1. I doubt that Israel will "self destruct," since it is surrounded by nations that have decided that they will do the job. Have you ever wondered why?

      Palestine is a general area, not a country. Israel became a state in 1948 and has made enormous contributions to science, medicine, and many other areas for human advancement. Its enemies are good at lobbing explosives. Check the statistics n the number of mortar rounds that hit populated areas in Israel on a daily basis.

      Not sure what a "road state" is, but we obviously disagree.