History in the making: Female cadet from Ivory Coast to graduate elite Air Force course

Lt. T's father moved to Israel 20 years ago from the West African nation.

IAF cadets of course 179. (Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
For the first time in the history of the Israel Air Force, a woman whose family is from the Ivory Coast will graduate from the elite pilots course next week. 
Lieutenant T. will graduate and get her wings on December 25, and start her position as an air crew member in the transport squadron.
The graduation ceremony will take place at Hatzor Air Force Base in central Israel and will be attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi and Air Force Commander Maj.-Gen Amikam Norkin.
According to Channel 13, Lt. T’s father moved to Israel 20 years ago from the West African nation and her mother immigrated from France. She grew up in a religious home in Jerusalem and was the only woman in the 179th pilots course.
“I thought the pilots course was impossible,” she said in a video released by the military. “But I realized that with a lot of hard work and with a lot of internal drive, you can get far.”
In 1949, Israel’s army became the first in the world to introduce mandatory military service for both men and women. In 1951, Yael Rom became the first female graduate of the prestigious pilots course.  But shortly after that, women were barred from combat positions, including from becoming pilots.
In 1993, South African immigrant Alice Miller successfully sued the military for her right to enlist into the air force.  While she was declared medically unfit for the role of a pilot, her actions shattered the glass ceiling in the IAF and opened up the pilots course to women.
Five years later, Sheri Rahat graduated from the pilots course and became a navigator for the F-16 fighter jet. In 2000, Lt. Roni Zuckerman, the granddaughter of two leaders of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, became the first woman to graduate as a combat fighter pilot. 
In September, Lt.-Col. G. became the first woman to lead an Israel Air Force squadron, becoming commander of the IAF’s 122th Nachshon squadron, the IAF’s intelligence unit based out of the Nevatim Airbase in the south of the country.
“Congratulations to our first female commander of an operational squadron in the air force – we’ve been waiting for you for 71 years,” Norkin said at the time. “Lt. Col. G., the mother of two boys – you are a role model and an inspiration for thousands of women in the State of Israel.”
Last January, Norkin appointed the first woman to command an aviation squadron. Major T. was promoted to lieutenant colonel to lead a squadron of Israel Air Force transport planes. Unlike Lt.-Col. G., who is responsible for operating aircraft, Major T. is responsible for ground-based operations.
Another woman, Maj. M., was appointed to command the IAF’s operational command and control unit, and was promoted to lieutenant colonel.  According to the army statement, she will be the first female air traffic controller to reach that rank.
Last November, a woman was appointed deputy commander of a combat squadron. The officer, Captain. Y., an F-15 navigator, will serve in the Spearhead Squadron, which flies F-15 fighter jets out of Tel Nof airbase in central Israel. In addition, two other female officers were appointed to serve as deputy commanders of a squadron of UAVs out of Palmachim Airbase.