(Al Schwimmer (1917-2011
Born in the United States in 1917, Al’s love of aviation began at an early age. While still attending high school, he began working as a part-time apprentice for a flight mechanic, and later on became an aerospace engineering graduate and a licensed pilot. He also served in the US Air Force during WWII.
In 1947, he established a company that purchased, renovated and smuggled WWII planes from Europe to the yet-to-be State of Israel, despite the arms embargo at the time. The planes played a significant role in the Independence-War effort, and are one of his numerous contributions to Israel’s defense.
Later on, he immigrated to Israel and founded an aircraft company that in time became the IAI, a global leader in the aerospace industry. He also served as the technological advisor to the Prime Ministers of Israel during the 70’s. His lifelong contribution to the State of Israel was awarded with the prestigious “Israel-Prize”.
“At the crucial crossroads the Israeli nation faced 63 years ago, stood men from our founders’ generation, giants such as Al Schwimmer. They made all the difference with their courage, broad vision and faith”, wrote the IAF commander, Major General Ido Nehushtan.
Through his Zionism and outstanding contributions to the State of Israel, Al Schwimmer has become an inspiration to a great many Israelis.