Endeavor Pilot Performs on the Flight Deck and Concert Stage

By John Perkinson, Senior Staff Writer
F/O Netanel Draiblate (Endeavor Air) notes that flying and music have many things in common, including procedures to follow and working as a team.

Whether he’s operating as a crewmember on the flight deck or performing an intricate passage as a member of a classical music ensemble, F/O Netanel Draiblate (Endeavor Air) has a reputation for paying great attention to detail. Known to his friends simply as “Nati,” he executes his skills as both a New York-based Endeavor Air CRJ900 pilot and a concertmaster and violinist for the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra with great precision.

“When you wear a uniform, people sometimes assume you’re not proficient at anything else,” said Draiblate, “but it’s not unusual for pilots to have other abilities or pursue other interests when they’re not flying for their airlines.” While he thoroughly enjoys aviation, music is his first love.

An extremely gifted and in-demand musician, Draiblate has played his Lukas Wronski violin with such virtuosos as Yo-Yo Ma, ltzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman, and Cho-Liang Lin. He’s also shared the stage with a wide range of international music troupes ranging from the American Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall to Turkey’s Bursa Regional State Symphony Orchestra.

Draiblate recently toured with duo partner pianist Lura Johnson as Times Two performing a program that included selections from their Azica Perspectives recording. He also led a string quartet in a special program celebrating the 50th anniversary of German-Israeli diplomatic relations in New York; Washington, D.C.; and Chicago, Ill.

Draiblate on the flight deck of an Endeavor Air CRJ900.

Along the way, Draiblate admits he’s encountered the occasional surprise, compelling him to improvise much in the same way airline pilots do when they contend with operational irregularities. “I periodically perform solos for the orchestra,” he noted, recalling a particular concert eight years ago when the top string on his violin—his E string—snapped just as he was preparing to play. “It exploded onstage,” he chuckled.

He quickly turned to his assistant concertmaster and asked to borrow his violin. Although that resolved his immediate problem, Draiblate acknowledged that each violin is constructed differently. Consequently, each looks and sounds different.

“I managed to play the first of two movements while the string on my violin was being replaced,” he said. “By the time I got to the second movement, I was handed my own violin and played it for the balance of the program. It’s one of those things you have no control over but was amusing, nonetheless.”

Draiblate observed that music and flying have other commonalities. “As a team, we work together. We train and practice; it’s all about repetition. There are procedures to follow and techniques to learn, and one prepares you for the other,” he added.


Growing up in Bat Yam, Israel, Draiblate was part of a musical household. His mother was an acclaimed violinist for the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and his father performed with the Israel Chamber Orchestra.

When Draiblate was six years old, his dad’s ensemble went on tour in Italy. He remembers the trip vividly. “It was my first time on an airplane. What a great experience!”

Draiblate began taking violin lessons that same year and continued throughout his primary and secondary education. Completing a bachelor’s degree, he moved to the United States where he earned a graduate performance diploma from the Peabody Institute of John Hopkins University and a doctorate in music from the University of Maryland.

New Arrangement

While attending Peabody, Draiblate learned from a friend that the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra was conducting auditions for its concertmaster position—the first violinist and the second in command of the musical group behind the conductor.

“Auditioning for concertmaster was a very involved process,” he acknowledged. “I was under scrutiny for a year; the whole orchestra evaluated me,” but Draiblate eventually got the job. As the concertmaster, he leads in the tuning of the symphony’s instruments before each performance, intercedes with the orchestra’s board of directors, and acts in a public-relations capacity.

In its 62nd year, the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra features approximately 70 professional musicians who perform at Maryland Hall in Annapolis, Md., the Strathmore Music Center in neighboring Bethesda, and on tour. As one of its musicians, Draiblate is a union member of the Musicians’ Association of Metropolitan Baltimore, Local 40-543 of the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada.

Like many of his peers, he’s used his role with the orchestra to expand his involvement with the classical music community. He soon became an assistant professor of music at Georgetown University and joined the PostClassical Ensemble, a music troupe based in the Washington, D.C., area. When possible, he’s played with various individuals and orchestras across the United States.

In addition to his Annapolis Symphony Orchestra duties, Draiblate founded and is director of the Annapolis Symphony Academy. Hoping to ensure a robust pipeline of future musicians from the local community, he launched the academy in 2018 as an after-school program.

“We wanted to do something to encourage people in the area to take a greater interest in classical music, including typically underrepresented groups,” he noted. “Our goal is to encourage everyone to feel welcome to participate.”

The academy, which began with 21 students, now includes 105, staffs nearly 40 professional musicians who provide instruction, and provides opportunities for students to attend Annapolis Symphony Orchestra performances. Draiblate is particularly proud that in its six years of operation, the academy has provided more than $300,000 in scholarships. “It’s a great program, and the orchestra, board, and staff are very supportive,” he remarked.

Second Movement

Several years ago, Draiblate’s girlfriend bought him a flying lesson from the Navy Annapolis Flight Center at Lee Airport in Edgewater, Md., as a birthday present. He enjoyed the experience so much that he immediately began working on his license and certificates. Over time, he became a flight instructor and considered the possibility of launching a dual career, working as both a musician and an airline pilot.

In the summer of 2022, Draiblate approached the symphony board with the idea. “Frankly, they were nervous that I might leave the orchestra, but I convinced them that wasn’t my intention,” he said. After being hired as a first officer by Endeavor Air, Draiblate dropped all his commitments except for the those associated with the orchestra, the academy, and the PostClassical Ensemble. “Flying requires me to be much more selective in what I commit to,” he said.

Although Draiblate has flown for Endeavor for just a few years, he’s achieved some acclaim as a pilot/musician. On May 1, 2023, he and his captain were at the Frederick Douglass Greater Rochester International Airport waiting out a four-hour weather delay before continuing to John F. Kennedy International Airport. As he often does, Draiblate brought his violin on the trip.

The captain asked him to go out to the boarding area and brief the passengers on the delay. He suggested the musician take his instrument with him to entertain the crowd. Draiblate recollected, “I grabbed my violin and played one of my absolute favorite pieces, ‘Memories of the Alhambra,’ by Francisco Tárrega.”

During a flight delay, Draiblate entertains waiting passengers playing “Memories of the Alhambra” on his violin.

After he returned to the flight deck, a customer service agent notified the first officer that the grateful passengers were summoning him back to play an encore. According to news reports, his airport performance, which was taped by a flight attendant and posted to Facebook and then on Endeavor’s Instagram account, has amassed more than 185,000 views and 600-plus shares, making Draiblate somewhat of a social media star.


It’s not uncommon for musicians to be pilots—a message Draiblate wants to share with his academy students. He recognizes that some will pursue music while other will consider different career paths. “While music will continue to be a part of their lives, they’ll all move in different directions,” he said.

Later this year, Draiblate is planning an event to introduce academy students to flying as an alternative career consideration. He’s enlisted Capt. Beau Brant (United), a renowned piano player (see “Our Stories” in the May 2022 issue) to help in the effort.

The two pilots will perform for the students and then share their own experiences and how they balance their piloting and musical careers. “I think this will be a great event for the kids,” Draiblate remarked.

This article was originally published in the March 2024 issue of Air Line Pilot.

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