The controls were in the hands of Captain Smadar Shechter and First Officer Meirav Schwartz, who were booked on the flight together by total happenstance. Speaking with Ynet, Shechter, 44, recalled the events. "I had to switch flights, and when I arrived at the airport I suddenly saw I was booked with Meirav. That's how we found ourselves suddenly together before takeoff. Of course, we were both very excited."
Shechter added, "It's fun to see all the departments in El Al supporting us, that they were excited for us about this flight. They made me feel like 'there's no home like El Al (a reference to El Al's commercial slogan in Hebrew. -Ed).' People's responses speak for themselves and it's amazing to get such treatment, especially behind the scenes.
"Our work friends wouldn't stop taking our photos at the control center, because it's definitely a rare and very exciting event." Shechter said that before takeoff, the passengers were informed of the historical flight in which they were taking part, and they happily applauded.
El Al chief pilot, Captain Ido Sharon, said that regardless of the precedent, the airline treats all pilots according to professional criteria alone. "We did not plan this flight, it just happened to come up this way. We treat female pilots just like male ones.
"Everyone here is measured only on the basis of requirement and their professional level," he added.
El Al currently employs three female pilots, as well as a female cadet who is expected to finish her training course in the coming months.