You’re just right for Israel,’ said Ben-Gurion
How Al Schwimmer was persuaded by Israel’s first prime minister to found this country’s aviation industry.
The fantasy of an Israeli aircraft industry took shape on a bumpy flight over the North Pole in 1951, inside what was to become the first aircraft in Israel’s new national airline. The conversation was between a pair of opposites: Shimon Peres, the erudite, future president of Israel, who in 1951 was the chief arms buyer for the new Jewish state, and Al Schwimmer, a swashbuckling American aviation engineer from Los Angeles, whose pals included Howard Hughes and Kirk Kerkorian. Schwimmer’s first name was Adolph, but against the backdrop of World War II, he’d opted for Al.