A Jewish Pilot in the Land of Milk and Honey — Part 10

In Kfar-Yeladim and Givat-Hamoreh gliding and soaring went on until the end of October but I had to leave as soon as I received my C grade for I had to prepare for a couple of exams at the University and I had to submit a paper to Professor Norman Bentwitch on the Chicago Convention-1944 and the issuing PICAO and later ICAO. I also continued giving as many English lessons as I could so as to replenish my meager purse.
And yet exactly after I obtained my C grade, thanks to the Succot holiday I went back to Kfar-Yeladim for one day only during which I did a 55 second glide on the Wrona from the B starting point and a 10 minute and 2 seconds soaring flight with the Komar from the C starting point. Menahem Bernstein was the Assistant-Instructor under Itzhak Henenson.
1947 remains in my memory a miserable year. The British were sending back to Europe every ship of Jewish immigrants which succeeded in evading the holocaust one way or another. The small number of Jews which resided in Palestine at that time was furious. There were 3 Jewish underground organizations: The Hagana; the Etzel  or Irgun as the British named them and the FFI or Stern-Gang as the British named them. The Hagana was fighting the other two organizations directly and by helping the British discover their members and imprison or shoot them. The Palmach which was the elite of the Hagana named this shameful period: “The Saison” (the season) alluding to the season of hunting. This was far from being a place and time for quiet and serious academic studies.
I was a Hagana member as were all the members of both my father’s family and my mother’s family. But during this period I had a sweetheart who was a member of the FFI (Stern-Gang). We managed to keep our underground-organization secrets to ourselves and stick to love. But my two friends who lived with me in rooms in Bit-Hakerem reported me to the Hagana Intelligence who reported me to the British Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and they summoned me for an investigation in their office near the Jaffa Gate. They searched my girl-friends rooms in Jerusalem and found some letters which I wrote her and my photograph. they put her in the Womens’ Prison in Beit-Lehem but they let me go after the investigation. I gave them our love story and they knew from which stock I came. 6 months later they released my love.
In mid-May a Wrona was brought to Bat-Yam which is just a few kilometers south of Tel-Aviv and lies also along the sea. Gliding was done only on Saturdays from the low hillocks which lay along the coast towards the coast and all the way to the waterline. I did 3 starts on 2 Saturdays in May and 3 starts on 3 Saturdays in June. They are not worthy mentioning as they were at the most 20 seconds long. Henenson was the Instructor. Gliding from this spot was only good for beginners. You could not even get to Grade A here. I was not very  interested in gliding here.
In July I was free of my studies and so on the 4th I was back at Kfar-Yeladim with Itzhak Henenson instructing. On the 4th, 5th,6th, and 8th I did 6 short glides on the Wrona then on the 9th I went over to the Komar and started with a 1minute and 33 seconds glide from the B starting point and a soaring flight of 16 minutes and 1 second from the C starting point.
Henenson told me that he wanted to appoint me as a Gliding-Instructor up to Grade A and he would therefore have me carry out test-flights on Wronas which were just assembled or do the pre-start instruction of new gliding-trainees. I therefore did a test-flight to a Wrona on the 11th and the next day did a soaring-flight of 9 minutes and 2 seconds with the Komar from C starting-point. On the 15th I finally accomplished a soaring-flight of 1 hour and 3 minutes at an altitude of 1000 meters above starting point, soaring over the Valley of Jezreel. Four days later, on the 19th Henenson told me to transit to the Grunau-Baby which was one of 2 high-performance sailplanes made in Germany and brought by the group of German Jews who came from Germany to participate in the Macabiah and remained here. Its wing span was 12.87 meters and its maximum weight in-flight was 166 kgs. It had all the flight-instruments which the Komar had.
I made first a glide of 1 minute and 20 seconds with the Grunau-Baby so as to get “the feel” of handling it and right after that a soaringflight of 12 minutes. Three days later, on the 22nd, I tried soaring again with it but came down after 6 minutes due to very poor weather conditions. Frankly I did not like the Grunau-Baby too much. It needed very good weather-conditions suitable for soaring and these were easily found in northern Germany but not in Palestine. And therefore I was very glad when offered the Komar on the 24th with which I soared for 1 hour and 47 minutes to my heart’s content.
2 days later I had to do another test-flight to a Wrona and on the 27th I went back to the Grunau for a 3 minute glide. Two days later we had a strong wind of 5 meters per second and I managed to soar with the Grunau for 47 minutes.
July was gone and August came and with it came my big day: I was given the Komar and sailed out on a soaring flight which lasted 2 hours and 30 minutes.There were many strong thermal currents that 3rd of August and I joined several flocks of birds which were circling within these thermals and gained height with them until I found myself at Three days later an altitude of 1850 meters above the C starting-point from which I started. I thus broke the Palestine altitude record for Sailplanes which was achieved by Henenson during the late nineteen-thirties and was 1800 meters. On the 6th I tried to achieve a long soaring flight with the Grunau-Baby but came down after 3 minutes. Next day I went back home.

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