Historical records matching Al (Adolph William) William Schwimmer
About Al (Adolph William) William Schwimmer
Adolph "Al" Schwimmer (Hebrew: אל שווימר; 10 June 1917 – 10 June 2011) was an American-born Israeli engineer and businessman. He was the founder and first CEO of Israel Aerospace Industries.
Schwimmer was born in New York in 1917 to Jewish parents who had emigrated to the United States from Eastern Europe. He never used his given birth name of Adolph, preferring the nickname "Al".
In 1939, Schwimmer began his aerospace career at Lockheed Martin as an engineer and also received his civilian pilot license. During World War II, he worked for TWA and assisted the U.S. Air Transport Command as a flight engineer.
During Israel's War of Independence, Schwimmer used his World War II experience and his contacts to smuggle surplus war planes to Israel. Using circuitous routes, he also recruited the pilots and crews to fly the planes to Israel. Many of these men became the nucleus of the Israeli Air Force.
In 1949, Schwimmer returned to the United States and, in 1950, he was convicted in the United States of violating the US Neutrality Acts for smuggling the planes into Israel. Schwimmer was stripped of his voting rights and veteran benefits and fined $10,000, but did not receive a prison sentence. Schwimmer refused to ask for a pardon, believing that smuggling weapons to help create a Jewish State was the right moral decision to make, and that breaking the law was a proper form of moral civil disobedience.In 2000, President Bill Clinton, on his account, decided to give Schwimmer a pardon.
In the early 1950s, Schwimmer, who was running an aircraft maintenance company in Burbank, California, was approached by David Ben-Gurion, Israel's then prime minister, who asked Schwimmer to return to Israel and establish an aircraft company for commercial and military purposes. Schwimmer acceded to Ben Gurion's request and founded Israel Aerospace Industries, of which he became the first CEO.
During the years he served as head of the IAI, his duties took him to many locations around the world, such as Western and Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa.
Schwimmer was one of the founders of Savyon, but later moved to Tel Aviv.
In the mid-1980s, Schwimmer was a special adviser for technology and industry for Israel's then-Prime Minister Shimon Peres, who became a close friend.
Schwimmer died on his 94th birthday in Ramat Gan.
In 2006, Schwimmer was awarded the Israel Prize, for his lifetime achievement and special contribution to society and the State