Cpl. Dafna Shilon is an Aerial Operations Coordinator from the city of Caesarea
Our job is to coordinate all the different aircraft and personnel of a squadron, and I am in charge a squadron of combat helicopters. What I do on a daily basis is coordinate and link between all the different elements of a squadron, which include the commander, the technical branch, the pilots, and the operations officer in order to carry out operations or training flights. The shifts are long so I need to maintain a high level of concentration even if I’m exhausted, in addition to handling a bunch of telephone calls while trying to understand what everyone needs. During an operation, I’m the first one on the phone and from that moment until the pilot takes off it’s my job to make sure everything runs smoothly. Before the pilot boards, I arrange a folder containing all the necessary documents for the flight and I maintain contact with the pilot until he lands.
I began the application process for the job without really knowing what it was but I decided to try. After I passed the first screening I started to find out about the job, and suddenly found all of these people I knew who were in the same role, or knew other people in the role. All of them highly recommended the job, so when I found out I got it I was really happy.
The job requires a lot of responsibility. When I got here right after the course, I had no idea how I was supposed to do everything I needed to and do it well. It all looked so complicated. After being in the job a while, I can say that this sense of responsibility, to know that there are people who depend on me and that I am an important part of every flight, it’s the best feeling in the world.
The hardest part of the job is the length of our shifts. I have to maintain absolute focus because if I make a small mistake it can affect the pilot. Although this responsibility is great- especially because I’m a person who enjoys a lot of responsibility- it sometimes makes the job difficult.
I was on duty this August during the terrorist attack against the bus on route 12. In this case, on of our squadron’s pilots was just returning from a vacation in Eilat and saw what had happened. He called the squadron to check if we were sending rescue helicopters, but this was the first we were hearing of the event because it hadn’t reached the news yet and we didn’t received an official order. We started to try and piece together what had happened, and when we finally received the order I was the one running the operation. From the moment we got the order, until the moment the helicopters arrived with the wounded, I worked non-stop. It was extraordinarily stressful work but when the event ended, the squadron commander came to me personally and told me I did a good job. It was an amazing sense of achievment.
My friends and family have been incredibly supportive. They understand that I’m doing important work and they are mostly happy that I enjoy it so much.
I feel that everyone in the squadron really appreciates me and the other coordinators. They understand the importance of the job and realize it’s far more than just a clerk, so they definitely don’t treat us that way.
This job requires a very high level of attentiveness and concentration in high-pressure situations, in addition to having the ability to multi-task. These skills are more prominent in women than in men.
In the end, I definitely don’t feel that I ended up here because I’m a woman and there was nowhere else for me to go. I feel like I’m here by virtue of being a woman, I’m the only one who can do this job.