History In Their Midst
Three Israeli Air Force cadets --
all women -- will earn their wings at the winter pilots' graduation
ceremony Thursday. One is set to become a combat jet weapons
systems engineer (navigator) and two are headed for helicopter
In the 149th graduating pilots' course, 56 percent are from
cities, 19% from communal villages, 15% from moshavim, and 10% from
kibbutzim. Six percent are religiously observant. Some 58% are from
the center of the country, 34% are from the North, and 8% are from
the south. A majority (58%) belonged to youth movements, and 27% of
those belonged to the Scouts.
Twelve percent of the graduates served in other units before
transferring to the pilots course. Fifteen percent have a family
member who is or was a pilot, about the same as in previous years.
Eighty-six percent went to academic high school and every cadet
took matriculation exams. Interestingly, just 17% of the new
pilots' mothers are teachers, whereas in past years this figure was
closer to 50%. Only 13% have an engineer father, down from 20% last
year. At least 56% have two siblings or more.
The matriculation takes place at the
Beersheba Israeli Air Force Museum on the grounds of Hatzerim Air
Force Base. They graduate amid a collection of Israeli aircraft
dating back to the Jewish state's war for independence in 1949.
The collection includes Spitfires, a Meteor, a P-51D Mustang, an
Ouragon, a Mystere, a Magister, a Super Mystere, a Mirage III, and
other relics of the country's military aviation heritage. In all,
there are about 80 aircraft on display, some of them
Also a large collection of anti-aircraft guns, missiles and
radars including an extensive collection of Soviet systems captured
from the Arabs.
In literature sent to prospective visitors, the Israeli
government issues a warning: "Hatzerim is a real IAF base (look
overhead to see more planes) and Israel is at war. DO NOT wander
into unauthorized areas."
Special thanks to ANN Correspondent Dave Bender in