There are two main civilian, non commercial, pilots/aircraft-owners organizations in Israel:
The largest, most popular, and rapidly growing flying organization is the Israeli Light Sport Aviation (ILSA) Association that focuses only on LSA airplanes (up to 600Kg). It has 500 members to date and about 180 registered airplanes, all privately owned. LSA pilots and airplanes are allowed to operate from any certified or non-certified airfield. They are also flying in "Bubbles". Bubbles are designated G airspaces limited by boundaries and altitude, which require radio contact to the ATC unit. Because of its “free“ characteristics of flying, the LSA airplanes are deployed across many airfields in Israel and has the lion's share in terms of flying volume. In total, LSA airplanes fly 3-4 times more than GA airplanes. It is also the fastest growing organization in terms of new members and airplanes.
General Aviation, non-LSA pilots are mostly members of The IAOPA Association (https://www.aopa.org.il/). This organization encompasses some 300 pilots who operate mainly from larger airports.
Israel LSA Association objectives
Our main objective is to pormote Sport Aviation in Israel. We are working with the Isareli Airforce and the Israeli Civil Aviation Authority (ICAA) to promote this goal. We have 500 members and over 180 LSA planes and growing.
Under LSA category , we have Light Sport Airplanes with a 600Kg MTOW. Also included are Gyro crafts with the same MTOW clacification. No microlights and Paragliders are included as they do not requiere a certified license from ICAA. They threfore have their own organizations.
As this market is very small in Israel, we have no Israeli manufacturer for GA and LSA categories. The most common used LSA models are European made. Flight Syntesis (Texan), Tecnam ( P92 & Sierra), Bristel, Sting and some other Ukranian models. The few amateure built airplanes are ICP (Savannah) and Kitfox.
LSA airplanes use generally most of the airports and airfields in Israel except for Ben Gurion (LLBG) and Herzelia (LLHZ) due to operational limitations. In this list are Kiriat Shmona (LLKS) and Rosh Pina (LLIB) in the north of Isarel, Megido (LLMG), Massada (LLMZ), Ein Yahav (LLEV), Beer Sheba (LLBS) and Eilat Ramon (LLER). In addition LSA can use any strip that is suitable for landing, as long as the owner of the land permits and suitability of the strip is established by the pilot. Therefore, any dirt road can turn into a landing strip and “Bush/Desert flying“ is commonly popular among LSA pilots.
Landing fees and fuel
The LSA organization is negotiating yearly a cumulative fee with the major airstrips in Israel. This is financed by the membership fee dues and ILSA members do not pay when they land in major Airfields. As for Airports, charges are paid for Airport Autority and usualy are modest (ca. 5-10 Euro per landing). 100LL fuel is avaliable in all Airports, but Mogas is avaliable only in a few airfields. Since Israel is relatively small, a need to refuel outside the home airfirld is not that common, and even in such a case, a gas station nearby would do.
Main destinations of the Israeli sport pilots within Israel and outside of Israel
Israel is bounded by hostile Lebanon and Syria in the north. Other neighboring countries are Jordan in the east, and Egypt in the south and west. It is very complicated to coordinate flights to Jordan or Egypt. However, many pilots fly due west over the Mediterranean to Cyprus, Greece and beyond. Some pilots take commercial flights to Europe and hire local airplanes after completing the requirements for a local PPL and having check rides.
Israeli UL/LSA pilot lcences
All Israeli LSA pilots bear a PPL license. However, since the course syllabus training for LSA is only 32 hours, it does not include segments included in the GA training (for example, 3 hours of night flying, long cross country solo navigations etc. ). A remark to that effect appears on the back of Israeli LSA licenses.
Main problems and issues faced by the Israeli LSA and GA pilots/aviation
Beacuse of its small size and special Geo-Political situation, Israel has one of the most dense and regulated airspaces. All its airspace, including comericial and general aviation traffic, is controlled by the Israeli Airforce. During weekdays, the Army/Airforce is using much of the airspace and restricted/prohibited zones for training, so only CVFR routes, some low flying routes and a few Bubbles are left open. This changes over the weekends (Friday-Saturday) when most of the country's airspace is open for flying. All flights are controlled and require radio comunication with ATC. Therefore the VFR is designated Controlled VFR (CVFR).
Foreign UL/GA pilots flying to/in Israel
Foreign pilots and their airplanes are very much welcomed and encouraged to visit Israel and the LSA Association base that is located in Rishon LeZion (LLRS). We hosted in the past pilots who came from Italy, Hungary, Czech Republic and Austrlia. We try to do our best to give them our best hospitality and assistance , and to fly with them in Israel. Foreign GA/LSA pilots are not allowed to fly alone in their airplanes in Israel. They must have an accompanying Israeli pilot in the cockpit or an accompanying airplane for a single seat airplane.
Flying to Israel (the entry point is usualy Haifa LLHA) requiers some preparations. An application needs to be sent and approved for security screening before an entry permission to the Israeli Airspace is granted. This usually takes 1-2 weeks to complete. The LSA Association members may help with the procedures after a first contact is established.
What is unique about flying in Israel?
Israel enjoys a warm climate with many sunny days. The winter (Dec-March) brings some thunderstorms and rain systems, but they usually end in 3-4 days. Thus VMC are prevailing almost all year round. Israel is small, but its landscape is varied dramatically. If you fly north 45 min. from Tel Aviv, you will enjoy the green north, Mount Tabor, Nazareth, the Sea of Gallilee, the Jordan river, and in winter the snowy Mount Hermon tops. Flying east and south from Tel Aviv will reveal Jerusalem, the Judea desrt, the Dead Sea - the lowest place on earth! (landing at LLMZ), the Negev Desert on its unique Machteshim and down to Eilat on the Red Sea.
Flying to Israel
If you are a non Israeli pilot who which to visit isreal with you private LSA, please follow up the procedure described here for entry permission.
Formation over Megido
Over Dead Sea Sinkhole
Belvoir - Crusaders Fortress