It has been two decades since Alice Miller took her case to the Supreme Court of Israel and demanded that females be allowed to become fighter pilots in the Israeli Air Force. Since that fateful day, 38 women have completed the rigorous course to become a pilot, making up just ten percent of those who begin the course.
The newest member of that illustrious team graduated her IAF training course this past December.
According to the Israeli military magazine BaMachane, 31 of those women are still serving in the IDF in active duty, while another five are in active reserves. Of the last graduating class of pilots, women represented seven percent of the total graduating class.
During the recent IAF graduation, the Air Force held exercises for the 169th pilot’s training program. 400 recruits began the course, which was completed by 37 pilots. Of the graduates, seven will fly helicopters, three are fighter pilots, 16 are navigators for fighter pilots, six will pilot cargo planes, three are navigators for cargo planes, and three are standby pilots.
85 percent of the graduates will serve in mandatory service and 15 percent are in the reserves. One of the graduating female pilots is also religiously observant.
“It’s not every day that you see a young women clad in a long khaki skirt marching alongside the elite of the Israel’s military echelon,” wrote Ynet. “However, those completing Israel’s infamously grueling pilot IAF training program are an unusual bunch, handpicked out of thousands who vied for a spot in the lucrative program, and ‘Yael’ (not her real name) is no different.”
Yael is the second religious fighter pilot to have graduated the course. The first religious female pilot to graduate was Tamar Ariel, who died in a recent catastrophe while touring in Nepal.
Both women are part of an illustrious history of trailblazing women who have achieved accolades in the Israeli military dating back to the pre-state militias who allowed female pilots. Until 1996, the training program was closed to women. Alice Miller then took the IAF to the Supreme Court and forced them to allow her to participate in the program.
While the success rate among male trainees who participate in the program is higher (according to Air Force, data 20 percent pass the course as opposed to only four percent of females who succeed in passing), the women are no less counted upon when going into action.
Both Yael and Tamar join the elite few who have decided to give their all for their country.