Dan Senor & Saul Singer for Jerusalem Post: You’re just right for Israel,’ said Ben-Gurion

June 13th, 2011

Jerusalem Post

You’re just right for Israel,’ said Ben-Gurion

By DAN SENOR AND SAUL SINGER
06/13/2011 23:08

How Al Schwimmer was persuaded by Israel’s first prime minister to found this country’s aviation industry.


Al Schwimmer, who died on Saturday at 94 and whose funeral was held on Monday, was branded a “legend” by President Shimon Peres for his vital life’s work in Israeli aviation. This extract from the book Start- Up Nation, the best-seller on Israel’s “economic miracle” by Dan Senor and former Jerusalem Post staffer Saul Singer, describes in vivid detail how Schwimmer first got involved…

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.