The plane is flown by two pilots: Captain Yinon Hadar and first officer, Nechama Spiegel Novak, who, as was first reported in Yedioth Ahronoth, was accepted to El Al pilots' course in 2015 and successfully completed it several months ago.
Spiegel Novak was educated at Beit Yaakov institutions in Jerusalem. She is married and has four children and lives in a Haredi community in the Jerusalem area. At the age of 20, she caught the aviation bug and started taking flight lessons in the US.
She received a pilot's license in the United States and has since tried to get accepted to the EL AL pilot course. In recent years, she passed the threshold requirements, but since she did not serve in the air force, she fell through on the lack of sufficient flight hours.
But Spiegel Novak did not give up, and made sure to fly to the United States every year to study and accumulate flight hours. After meeting all the requirements and passing all the tests, she was notified in 2015 by El-Al that she had been accepted to its pilots' course set to be opened in October of that year. During the course, she gave birth, and after her maternity leave, she returned to the course and completed it.
An ultra-Orthodox pilot is not a matter of convention, to put it mildly, in the ultra-Orthodox sector, but Spiegel Novak tells her friends that "her life's dream has always been to be an active pilot, and my husband is very helpful in it," even if working as a pilot entails being away for long periods of time and working irregular hours. Her family also praises her for her choice.
Spiegel Novak is not the only trailblazer to come out of the Beit Ya'akov institutions. A close friend of hers is Yael Gold Zamir, the first of the ultra-Orthodox Beit Yaakov school graduates to become a sixth-year medical student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Gold Zamir is a social activist for the advancement of Haredi students and coordinates the field of ultra-Orthodox students in medicine in Israel. She is a lecturer in nursing and a member of the Health Ministry forum to reduce gaps in the provision of health services.
And if that isn't enough, Spiegel Novak is the friend of another trailblazer: Rivki Ravitz, the chief of staff of President Reuven Rivlin, who is the mother of 11 children.