An RWD-8 at Aviron’s flight school in Kibbutz Afikim. “Aviron” is founded
In July 1936, at the height of the Arab riots and hostilities against the Jewish populace, the first Jewish aviation firm in the Holy Land – “Aviron” – was founded by the Jewish Agency, the National Council and Histadrut labor union organization. Several events combined to speed up the decision to found Aviron: the Arab riots which had erupted earlier in the year, the vigorous aviation activity in the flight clubs, and the attention that Polish pilot Dzembinski’s landing in Tel Aviv had garnered.
The company’s goal, from the outset, was the establishment of a motorized flight school and the operation of a passenger air service between Tel Aviv, Haifa and Tiberias. The Tiger Moth plane which pilot Tzvi Czizik had purchased in England was repaired and flown to Palestine, to serve as the first trainer in the Aviron’s initial pilot training course.
In March of 1938, Aviron’s flight school, in Kibbutz Afikim in the Jordan Valley, was founded, under the auspices of an English flight instructor named Grey. Later on, Grey was joined by two additional instructors, Jewish pilots Ernst Rapaport and Emmanuel Zukerberg (Zur), who became the firm’s head pilot and instructor.
July 20th 1939 marked the graduation ceremony for the first cadets to finish Aviron’s course, the highlight of which was the awarding of pilot’s wings – to the graduates’ shirts. The first graduates were nine in number: Avraham Mahol, Yosef Ofin, Ya’acov Tiroshi, Yitzhak Henenson, Yitzhak Nul, Uri Breier, Yosef Krupinsky, Avraham Beitner and Emil Pohorile. During its years of existence, Aviron taught dozens of Jews to fly.
From a certain point onwards, Aviron started taking security oriented missions upon itself. Its location – in the relatively remote Jordan Valley, was meant to make British supervision of what went on in its storerooms and on its airstrips as difficult as possible. During the Arab hostilities of 1936-1939 its planes assisted the Hagana in reconnaissance, liaison and medical evacuation. Aviron also participated in the actions of the ‘Plugot Sadeh’ – the ‘Field Regiments’, established in 1937 in order to fight the Arab marauders – in liaison and reconnaissance missions.
In 1940, the company received permission to operate a regular flight line from Lod (Lydda) to Tzemach, on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. The Lod-Tsemach line and the flight school operated intermittently throughout WW2. Towards the end of the war, a second line was established, connecting Lod and Haifa. Still, Aviron never became large enough to take in the Jewish air and ground crew professionals who had served with the Allies in the war and were now living in British Palestine. In November of 1947 Aviron handed over all of its airplanes, with the exception of one twin engine Rapide, to the newly founded Sherut Avir.
Two months before the declaration of Israeli independence, with the security situation in Israel deteriorating daily, even that last plane was handed over to the Sherut Avir.