First Ethiopian Becomes Israeli Air Force Combat Pilot

Among the 177 cadets who were awarded their wings from the Israeli Air Force is Lieutenant Y, the first Ethiopian to become a combat pilot, Ynet reported Wednesday.

Lt. Y, whose full name remains secret like all combat pilots, said, “Being a member of the air squadrons and serving in one of the IDF’s most significant units is for me a great honor.”

The new combat pilot, who grew up in the center of Israel, attended religious schools growing up and attended prestigious Yeshiva high schools. When he was invited to take the pilot’s course, he initially doubted that he would succeed.

Following his initial coursework, Y took two and a half years off, to study in the Bnei David yeshiva, which has a pre-army learning program.

Y’s initial impression of pilots was that they were aloof, but he soon learned, that “they were no different to other people, sometimes they smiled and sometimes they were upset… I am a social person, I love to laugh and I quickly found my place among the group.”

“As the course concludes, I have mixed feelings,” he explained. “On the one hand it is nice to finally receive our wings after three intensive years of training; on the other hand, it is only the beginning of the journey.”

Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin made special mention of Y’s historic achievement: “Distinguished members of the Ethiopian community are here today, Kessoch, academics and public figures; your presence sends an important message…. I am proud of you Lieutenant Y.”

In his speech, Norkin, like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, made mention of ongoing IAF operations in Syria.

[Photo: Israeli Air Force / Twitter ]