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George Lichter, Founder of the Force, Passes Away Release date 04.08.2013
Geoge Lichter, a prominent member of the generation of foreign volunteers, passed away last week at the age of 92. After his service in the United States Air Force during World War II, he came to volunteer in the IAF, which was then in its infancy, and took over training of the first Messerschmitt planes
Shir Cohen

Back in the 40s and 50s, while the IAF took its first steps, volunteers from abroad worked hard on its development. The volunteers that were very knowledgeable in the field of aviation formed the core of the manpower and the knowledge needed for the establishment of the young force. One of the prominent volunteers was the late George Lichter, who passed away last week.

George Lichter was born in Brooklyn, USA, in 1921 to a Jewish family. Growing up, he took an interest in aviation, and loved excitement. Before his arrival in Israel to volunteer for the young Israeli Air Force, Lichter was a pilot in the United States Air Force who fought in World War II: Fewer than one hundred operational flights over the skies of occupied Europe managed to win him many wartime medals of honor.

Lichter volunteered for the Israeli Air Force to teach a course on the German Messerschmitt planes in Czechoslovakia. Among his many pupils, were the late Major General Motti Hod, who would later become the seventh Commander of the Air Force, and Colonel (Res.) Danny Shapiro, a graduate of the first pilot course (Course 2) in Hatzor. "We left the line of planes and George carried out the final inspection. In full throttle, the engine comes to life. We takeoff, and that's how I first discovered the true face of this plane: We he opened the engine, lifted the tail of the plane and turned sharp left, as he made it very hard for the pilot to maintain direction during takeoff", says Colonel (Res.) Shapira describes his impressions of the flight with Lichter in his book "History of Israeli Air Force in the War of Independence" "Baptism by fire that went well, and I thought to myself that despite the terrible image of the Messerschmitt, 'you can tame the beast'".

Among the late Lichter's more prominent works, there is Operation Velveta 2, in which he flew together with the late Major General Hod and Colonel (Res.) Danny Shapira the German Spitfire planes from Czechoslovakia through Yugoslavia to Israel.

 

 

George Lichter 1921-2013
George Lichter 1921-2013