Pioneer Israeli pilot – 1948 - Our Passports
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Pioneer Israeli pilot – 1948

Passport used to smuggle to Israel its first fighter planes.


Yitzhak Efraim Henenson was one of the county’s early pilots, taking part in some of the decisive battles following the delectation of Independence; before and after.


The passport here is a fascinating addition to ones collection of military air force and or early Israeliana 1948-1950 related documents.


Issued in British Palestine on October 18th 1947, it was not put to use for nearly half a year.  Then, beginning of May 1948, the holder was drafted into a mission for the would-be-to-come young Israeli Air Force

(Henenson graduated from the first Hebrew aviation course, that was held in Palestine, on July 20th 1939).




The first visas are for Austria, Czechoslovakia, dating from May 2nd and followed by a transit visa from the Swiss consulate, May 5th. The destination was Czechoslovakia (Ruzyně & Jatech airports) and the mission was to collect and bring to Israel the first fighter planes (25 were sold to the Haganah by the Czech government): the Avia S-199, under the design of the famed Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6s; now under the name Avia S-199 and built in two factories in Czechoslovakia; and for that reason his passport was used to travel there. He, with additional other pilots, took off from the Tel Aviv airport (today named Sde Dov) on May 5th on board a Czech Dc-3 (an important note: the date is very important as well because there was an air-blockade placed on all of Palestine just before this date, meaning that only emergency & military flights were permitted to take off).

This was known as “Operation Balak”.


The passport was used only to leave the Mandate during its last days and by the time the pilot returned back, around May 20th, a new state was born and these passports became obsolete.


Among his other duties: First officer in the flight of bringing to Israel its first president, Chaim Weizmann, from Geneva to Akron air field (today Tel Nof base). The flight, on board a Skymaster plane, took close to 10 hours, and was considered as the first flight of Israel’s new El Al aviation company (end of September 1948).


Later on Yitzhak continued his career as becoming one of Israel’s first official civilian pilots, working for El Al. Among the images I added here are of his later passports (1951 & 1953) indicating inside that his profession was a pilot and place of work.


Smaller image source: Wikipedia.


Enjoy the pictures!




Thank you for reading “Our Passports”.


Neil Kaplan
  • Dave Oren

    excellent !

    July 10, 2016 at 10:07 am

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