New American documentary tells the story of the American pilots who joined the ranks of the IAF during Israel’s 1948 Independence war. “I was born to be here on that moment of history”
Eilon Tohar | Translation: Eden Sharon
“Above and Beyond” – that is the name that was chosen by American creators for their new documentary film which unfolds the story of the American pilots who volunteered the IAF during the 1948 Independence war. The movie, which was released last month and screened in different festivals around the world, presents the testimonies yet untold of the American pilots who fought for a country in the making.
“Nothing was going to stop me”
It was when the young State of Israel fought for its independence: “Sherut Ha’Avir”, the then-aerial branch of the Jewish community in Palestine, consisted of only a few pilots and a small number of mostly single-engine light airplanes.
The foreign pilots, mostly Americans, highly experienced after flying in WWII, came to help and manned fighters that were bought after the establishment of the state. They had a substantial part in laying the foundations for the establishment of the Israeli Air Force.
“I was told that Israel is going to declare independence and that there were going to be attacks by at least five Arab countries. They had no way to defend themselves, except with some airplanes they had purchased before, but they had no one to fly them. I was asked if I’m in a position to help”, said Leon Frankel, an American pilot who carried out 25 missions for the Israeli Air Force. “I made up my mind that nothing was going to stop me. I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t do this”.
“Above and Beyond: The Birth of the Israeli Air Force” is the first full-length movie to bring the story of these heroes and therefore prides itself with the slogan “The untold, true story”.
The movie shares the testimonies of the pilots, more than 60 years after volunteering to help Israel in one of the most important wars in its history. It was produced by Nancy Spielberg, the esteemed director’s sister, and was directed by the award-winning creator Roberta Grossman, who deals with many Jewish and Israeli issues.