Four women among IDF Flight Academy’s 182nd graduating class

July 25, 2021
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Four women are among the graduates of the Israeli Air Force’s prestigious Flight Academy and will receive their wings on Thursday from the country’s top politicians and military brass.

On Monday, the graduates – from the Flight Academy’s 182nd class – received the rank of Lieutenant (Lt.). The rank is traditionally awarded in a ceremony that serves as a general rehearsal for the official graduation ceremony, which will be held on Thursday.

The official graduation ceremony is held twice a year, and is attended by Israel’s leading political and defense echelon. This week’s ceremony will be attended by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, President Reuven (Rubi) Rivlin, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Deputy Chief of Staff Eyal Zamir, Israel Air Force (IAF) Commander Amikam Norkin, and more. The ceremony is often used as a platform for the prime minister and defense minister to lay out their defense policy.
In addition, this year’s ceremony will mark 40 years since Operation Opera, the destruction of the Iraqi Osirak nuclear reactor on June 7th, 1981. During the past week, air force veterans who participated in the attack met with the new pilots and shared their experiences preparing and executing the complex mission.
The flight academy does not just train pilots on fighter aircraft. Its graduates include cargo aircraft pilots, flight engineers, navigators, and attack and transport helicopter crews. The 182nd class includes 39 graduates, of which four are women, one of whom will become the first female fighter jet pilot to graduate from the academy in over four years, and will become the fifth currently active in the IAF.

Although women served as pilots before Israel gained independence and during its first decade, they were not given full equal opportunities until 1994.

“The Israeli Air Force carries out extensive operational activity, acts to stave off threats, and is required to learn quickly and remain flexible in the face of changing threats,” Brig.-Gen. Aviad Dagan, commander of the Hatzerim Air Force Base, said. “We are not alone in this struggle as the entire IDF is working together and is prepared, but we must be operationally sharp both in defense and in attack. You, the next in line, are taking up the torch and joining the family. Fly high, spread your roots, and return home safely.”

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