The ceremony was presided by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and the IAF Commander, Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, as well many of the pilots’ family, friends, other soldiers and a sea of well-wishers.
The pilots’ graduation follows 3 years of intense preparation, including aviation exercises, officer training, academic studies and rigorous physical exercise, in what is one of the most difficult, and sought after, programs in the IDF.
This year’s class also included 4 women, and for the first time ever, a religious Orthodox female pilot – proving that in the IDF, gender class or background is no barrier to success.
Speaking at the ceremony, IDF Chief Lt. Gen. Gantz told the graduates: “the next mission is your mission,” adding: “You are the guarantee that also in the future, against every necessary challenge, the Air Force and the IDF will stand ready, prepared, and determined to carry out the mission.”
The ceremony was concluded with a breathtaking display of Israel’s Air Force capabilities, as an array of fighter planes, including the F-15 and F-16 flew proudly across the skies as this years graduating class received their wings and became official IAF pilots.