A Jewish Pilot in the Land of Milk and Honey — Part 8

After the fatal accident to our last Chaika the Central Committee of the Palestine Aero Club decided that only Club members who hold a Private Pilot Licence will be transferred directly from the Wrona-Bis school-glider to the Komar-Bis high-performance sailplane so as to be able to achieve the gliding C grade.
A Private Pilot Licence required 12 hours of flying: 8 hours with a flight-instructor and 4 hours solo. All 12 hours were flown in the pattern. None away from the field. Each hour was 5PP. Club members had a 1PP reduction and paid 4PP per hour. I did not have 48PP to pay for a course and Henenson knew it.
My father was paying my tuition and upkeep at the Hebrew .University of Jerusalem. I was giving private lessons in English to students who studied at the Teachers Seminary at Beit-Hakerem and had saved 5PP. This is why Henenson advised me to speak to the Managing-Director of the Aviron Co. and beg him to help me with the payment. Finally Henenson said that he believed 5 hours of flyingwould be sufficient in my case.
When I arrived at Ramleh Airfield I went straight to Uri Michaeli who was the Managing-Director of Aviron and told him of my plight. But I was a bad actor and he was a very tough businessman. He said I would pay only 4PP per flying hour but as soon as I complete myflying I should pay the entire sum.
There were 3 flying instructors at Aviron: Chief-Flying-Instructor Emanuel Zukerberg (Zur); Flight-Instructor Dr. Ernst Rapaport andFlight-Instructor Uri Breier who was also the Chief Flight-Instructor of the Aero-Club while Henenson was the Chief-Gliding-Instructor of the Aero Club. These two were fierce opponents of each other. Michaeli sent me to Breier with Henenson’s letter.
Breier did not believe that a glider-pilot with so little flying experience could accomplish Henenson’s plan even if he was a “wunderkind”, and so as to make sure that it failed he said: “I think 3 hours flying will suffice, come back tomorrow morning and I’ll take you up.” Although Breier just saved me 8PP I was certain that Henenson will not agree to less than 5 hours. His responsibility in this case was too great. But anyhow I did not have 12PP to pay for 3 hours.
Next morning at 10 I stood before Breier who gave me a soft leather flying-helmet and goggles and to me to one of the 3 RWD8 airplanes. A parasol-wing type two-seater: Instructor up front and student behind with a single 4-cylinder 120 horsepower engine and a cruising speed of 140 km/h.
Breier took the front seat and I the rear. He said: I will start the engine and taxi to take-off position and you will take-off, climb to 500 meters straight to Tel-Aviv. At 500 meters straighten out and keep this altitutde, then make one 360 degree turn to the left and one 360 degree turn to the right. Now return from Tel-Aviv to Ramleh descending from 500 meters to 300 meters and level out.
This was my first flight in an airplane with an engine. As soon as Breier started the engine my knees started slightly shaking. However: I performed everything successfully and heard not a word from Breier throughout my whole performance neither did he touch the controls. When I levelled out at 300 meters he took over, joined the traffic-pattern and landed. We landed exactly 30 minutes after take-off. Breier taxied to the parking position and shut the engine. We climbed-out of the airplane and once we got our helmets and goggles off he said: “Come back tomorrow morning and I will give you a letter for Henenson”. Not one word more. Although I was bursting with curiosity to find out about my future I held my tongue, said thank you and left.
Next day I returned to Ramleh Airfield, paid the 2PP for the 30 minutes flying and received the letter from Breier to Henenson. I said goodbye to everybody and left for Kfar-Yeladim.
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