Flying PM, female ultra-Orthodox pilot breaks glass ceiling
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Flying PM, female ultra-Orthodox pilot breaks glass ceiling

Mother of 4 Nechama Spiegel Novak makes history taking Netanyahu to Greece for an official state visit

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, pose for a photo with pilot Nechama Spiegel Novak (right) before taking off from Ben Gurion International Airport to Greece, June 14, 2017. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, pose for a photo with pilot Nechama Spiegel Novak (right) before taking off from Ben Gurion International Airport to Greece, June 14, 2017. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

The El Al flight taking Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife to Greece on Wednesday was piloted by a female ultra-Orthodox woman, a first for an official flight.

Nechama Spiegel Novak, a mother of four who has been flying Israel’s national carrier since earlier this year, left Ben Gurion International Airport on Wednesday morning guiding a chartered Boeing 737 to Thessaloniki, where Netanyahu is participating in a trilateral summit with Greece and Cyprus.

The prime minister and his wife, Sara, took several photos with the pilot, who was the first officer on the flight, before they took off.

Novak attended flight school in the United States, where she worked to log enough flight hours. Unlike most Israeli pilots, she did not serve in the Israeli Air Force, where most pilots log their flight hours and get their licenses.

“Being a pilot has always been a dream of mine. My husband is very supportive, and he is helping realize this dream,” she said in 2015 when she started her flight training.

Novak lives in an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood in Jerusalem and is reluctant to grant interviews.

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