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Sky's the Limit for Israel's First Female Fighter Pilot

June 30, 2001|Associated Press

HATZERIM AIR FORCE BASE, Israel — A 20-year-old woman marched among rows of blue-uniformed cadets on a desert airstrip, her braided hair setting her apart as she became Israel's first female fighter pilot.

Lt. Gen. Shaul Mofaz, the military's chief of staff, praised 2nd Lt. Roni Zuckerman for finishing sixth in her class of 70.

Zuckerman, who graduated Thursday, will enter the air force's most elite combat unit and will fly F-16 fighter planes.

Zuckerman hails from Kibbutz Lochamei Hagettaot, which is Hebrew for ghetto fighters. The farming village was founded by her grandparents, who were heroes of the 1943 Warsaw ghetto uprising.

"Roni's story is the story of a free and independent Israel and a sign of Israel's battle for independence through the years," Mofaz told the graduates.

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