One cadet stood out among the others at Tuesday's Israeli Air Force cadet course graduation ceremony – a young woman wearing a long skirt. T., 20 is set to be the first religious woman to complete the prestigious course.
T. grew up among combat soldiers. Her father, a farmer, once served in a Golani reconnaissance unit and her community is well known for the number of teens who enlist in elite IDF units.
While she could have received an exemption from military service on religious grounds, she chose instead to undergo the grueling and demanding Israeli Air Force cadet course.
"This is a family with deep values, parents that raised their children to excellence and Zionism from a very young age," a member of the community and friend said. "T. wanted to be a pilot from a very young age."
T. took part in Tuesday's ceremony together with the cadets in her class who are at an advanced stage in the course, she has recently returned to the course after recuperating from an injury to her back.
In July 2010, on her first solo flight on an Efroni training plane she was forced to bail out at the landing stage. She sustained light injuries to her back and was taken to hospital. She then had to endure a lengthy recuperation process but it was clear to her that she would be returning to complete the course.
Her recuperation time was spent volunteering as a counselor with the Bnei Akiva youth group.
T.'s friends say she was recently given the news that her injury means she might be assigned to the navigators' course, but they have no doubt that she will become the first religious woman to receive the prestigious pilot's wings insignia.
"We're keeping our fingers crossed for her every day, say friends and neighbors, "and pray that she will complete the course with a great deal of success."
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