Adolph ("Al") Schwimmer, one of the founders of the Israel Air Force and the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), and an Israel Prize laureate, died at the Chaim Sheba Medical Center, Friday. He was 94.
Schwimmer, who came to Israel in 1948, was instrumental is turning the IAI into a global leader in the aerospace and weaponry field.
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Schwimmer, an American citizen, was born in New York in 1917. An aeronautics graduate and a licensed pilot, he served in the US Air Force during WWII, and was awarded a medal of valor.
In 1947 he volunteered to help the Haganah paramilitary group to acquire aircraft. Schwimmer formed an aviation company, purchased war surpluses and smuggled them to Israel via then-Czechoslovakia.
In 1950, however, he was convicted by US authorities of violating the Neutrality Act for smuggling the planes. He was stripped of his rights at a WWII veteran, but not imprisoned. In 2001 he was pardoned by then President Bill Clinton.
After Israel's inception in 1948, Schwimmer joined the Air Force, after which he established an aircraft company which eventually evolved into the IAI.
He served as the technological advisor to the prime minister in two different governments in the 1970s, and founded the Faculty of Aerospace Engineeringat the Israel Institute of Technology.
In 2006 he was awarded the Israel Prize for his contributions to Israeli society.
Schwimmer is survived by his wife, Rena, a son, Danny, his daughter, Daphna. His funeral has been set for Monday.
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