A Jewish Pilot in the Land of Milk and Honey — Part 11

On my return to Tel-Aviv I was summoned to appear before the Central Committee of the Aero Club where I passed an oral examination on the method of instructing trainees for Grade A  and Grade B in Gliding. On August 25, 1947 I was endorsed as a Gliding-Instructor up to Grade A.
My friend Israel Lahav had a Private Pilot Licence and paid the Aviron Co. for 1 hour so as to refresh his flying on the Taylorcraft. He knew that I was looking for opportunities to fly, even as passenger, in light airplanes and so he asked me to join him and was kind enough to let me handle the flight-controls for 30 minutes.
Soon after getting my Instructor endorsement I was sent to Hedera. There was a new branch of the Aero Club there and the Haganah got 15 boys and girls together, brought a Wrona over and organized a primary Gliding course of 4 days at Giveat-Olga (the hillocks facing the coast west of Hedera). While instructing I did 8 short glides so as to demonstrate what I expected from these youngsters. The Haganah paid me and it came just n time.
There was during these years (1945-1950) a magazine called “HASPORT”, the Palestine illustrated sports weekly, edited by Joseph Yekutieli who asked me if I would like to write about the sport of Gliding and Soaring. I wrote several articles and Yekutieli  gave me a Correspondent Certificate in both English and Hebrew which enabled me to occupy a seat at the Sports Newspapermen and Correspondents balcony.
In Septmber 1946 the Pilots Association received an Auster “Autocrat” which was flown from England by Emanuel Tzur. Moshe Hadas who was an Aviation Ground-Engineer was appointed to maintain it and needed a helper. I quickly volunteered to be his helper and in remuneration I was taken along by Emanuel Tzur on a long one-hour test-flight.
All this time which I spent trying to get as much time as I could flying sailplanes and light-airplanes was very satisfying for me but I still had one problem which I had to tackle and about which I had to take a decision: My studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. After my two years there I was convinced that I would not be able to reach the MA degree at the end of two more years of study which was what I was expected to achieve. It was much too difficult for me and what made it even more difficult was the old Central-European Academic system which existed at Jerusalem during that period.
I wanted to advance slowly and get a Bachelors degree first before going on further and this was not within reach during the British Mandate of Palestine. Several friends of mine went abroad so as to be able to accomplish their academic studies in a more convenient way. Some were in the U.S. and were very satisfied that they switched. I spoke with my father and he agreed with me and said that he would help me to a certain extent but that I would have to find some extra work and get some income.
The American Consulate was in Jerusalem and it took some time to get a Student’s Visa in those days. My father bought me a ticket in Third-Class (Steerage) on a ship which sailed out of Haifa and stopping at Naples and Marseille arrived at NYC 21 days later. I roomed with Benny Cohen at 103 W. 91st Street.
The political and economical situation in Palestine deteriorated after my departure. On November 29, 1948 the U.N. voted for the partition of Palestine. The British departed at the end of their 30-year Mandate of Palestine and the Arabs started immediately attacking the Jewish population, deluding themselves that they would acquire the whole country for themselves.
In February 1948 Benny Kaplan who was on his way to study at Berkley University in North California arrived in New-York and spent a couple of days with us. Benny Kaplan who knew how I craved to be able to get several flying-hours so as to finally acquire a Private Pilot Licence told me that Teddy Kollek was organizing a flying-course and looking for volunteers.
Teddy Kollek was sent by David Ben-Gurion to NYC in order to  collect contributions with which he was supposed to buy armament and ammunition and dispatch the lot to Israel post haste. One of the most generous contributors was Oscar Rudnick of Bakersfield, Cal. His daughter Elynor who had a Commercial Pilots Licence was running a private airfield called Bakersfield Airpark which parked  private airplane owners, carried out air-taxy flights, had a flight-instructor which gave flying lessons to those who wanted to get aflying-licence and was the first US civil helicopter company who did mainly crop-dusting and spraying.
Elynor Rudnick proposed to Teddy Kollek to run a flying course on USAF lines which would produce pilots for the Hagana Air Service which was formed on November 10, 1948 and  became the Israel Air Force  on May 15 1948. The situation in Israel did not enable running such a course there. Elynor asked Teddy to send her 15 men for this course.
As soon as I heard Benny Kaplan I flew to Teddy Kollek’s office. Teddy knew me since he sent me several times as he did other Israeli students to talk to groups of Jewish people in greater NY who asked for information on what was going on in Israel and wanted to contribute financially. He also knew about my aviation attributions and as soon as I showed up he said: “Oded: You are the most suitable candidate for this course, see Moshe Goren in next room.”
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