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March 4, 2022 9:25 am

Harold ‘Smoky’ Simon, One of the IAF’s Founders, Dies at 101

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Harold “Smoky” Simon displays his Nefesh B’Nefesh’s Sylvan Adams Bonei Zion Lifetime Achievement Award, Sept. 24, 2019. Source: Nefesh B’Nefesh via Facebook. – Three days after he passed away at the age of 101, close to his 102nd birthday, tributes continue to pour in for Harold “Smoky” Simon on Thursday, one of the legendary founders of the Israeli Air Force.

The Israeli Air Force said on its official website that Simon left behind an enormous legacy containing “endless, heroic stories.”

On May 14, 1948, one week after arriving in Israel from South Africa, he took off in a Bonanza aircraft, making it “the first Hebrew flight that he took part in,” the IAF recalled.

“The plane flew towards Lebanon and left the borders of [Mandatory] Palestine, while at the same time, David Ben Gurion prepared to give a statement at Dizengoff House in Tel Aviv. When the aircrew returned from their mission, they already arrived in a land that turned into the State of Israel,” it stated. “His pioneering influence has been etched into the origins of the state.”

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Born in 1920, he enlisted into the South African air force at the age of 21 after studying accountancy. He fought against the Nazis for the allies in the Second World War, gaining experience as a navigator on-board a bomber.

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