Israeli history photo of the week: Israel's first flight

The start of aviation in Eretz Yisrael; Military aircraft became part of the Palestinian Campaign.

By
November 24, 2011 13:45
1 minute read.

German plane over Ramla 311. (photo credit: Australian War Memorial collection)

The Library of Congress has recently digitalized a collection of over 10,000 photographs, taken by the "American Colony" in Jerusalem, a group of Christian utopians who lived in Jerusalem between 1881 and the 1940s. The photographers returned to the US, and bequeathed their massive collection to the Library of Congress in 1978. The collection includes Winston Churchill's visit to Jerusalem, Jewish expulsions from the Old City during Arab riots, and the building of Tel Aviv.

Just 10 years after the first Wright Brothers flight at Kitty Hawk, the first aircraft landed in Jerusalem on December 31, 1913, flown by a Frenchman, Marc Bonnier. The flight was part of a seven-week tour of the Mediterranean that began and ended in France.

On May 1, 1914, Turkish aviators Salim Bey and Kemal Bey landed their aircraft in Jerusalem. And after that flight, it appears that military aircraft began to fill the skies over Palestine.


The early aircrafts' biggest military advantage was its ability to provide reconnaissance data of enemy troops' deployment. In that regard, the plane's advantage was slightly more than the observation balloons used by armies two centuries earlier. But quickly machine guns and bombs were added to the planes, and air combat and ground support changed the nature of modern warfare.

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Turkey utilized aircraft to provide intelligence during its 1916 attack on the Suez Canal and to observe British troops' two attempts to capture Gaza in early 1917. By the fall of 1917, German and Turkish aircraft had to be stopped from reporting back on British commanders' plan to unleash a flank attack against Beersheba. The challenge was met by British and Australian planes, and the Turks were caught unprepared.

The Library of Congress and the Australian War Memorial provide many photographs of the combat aircraft, the men who flew them, and the graves of those who fell.

More photos can be viewed at www.israeldailypicture.com


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