Have You Read? Angels in the Sky: How a Band of Volunteer Airmen Saved the New State of Israel

By Capt. Robert Gandt (Pan American/Delta, Ret.)

Dawn, May 15, 1948. The newly founded nation of Israel is celebrating its first day of statehood. The jubilation comes to a halt when bombs rain down on Tel Aviv. Five Arab nations swarm across Israel’s new borders. Egyptian bombers and fighter planes fill the sky. The new nation has no allies and no regular army, navy, or air force. The extinction of Israel seems certain.

And then comes help. From overseas arrives a motley group of volunteers to fight for the besieged country. Angels in the Sky by aviation and military historian Robert Gandt is the amazing story of the men who risked everything—careers, citizenships, their lives—to help save Israel. Though many were Jewish, many were not. They were young idealistic, and courageous World War II combat veteran pilots.

Defying the U.S. Neutrality Act, the volunteers smuggle contraband bombers, transports, fighters, and weapons into Israel. In one of the stranger ironies of the war, young Jewish pilots strap into beat-up ex-Nazi Messerschmitts to fight Arabs flying British-supplied Spitfires. Even stranger, the volunteers receive their training behind the Iron Curtain in Czechoslovakia. In a series of swirling dogfights over the desert, the outnumbered young airmen achieve a stunning victory.

Included in the book are maps, artwork, a bibliography, a time line, photo section, and extensive notes to back up the author’s research. Angels in the Sky is a real-life David-and-Goliath tale that reads like a fiction thriller. With the survival of Israel hanging in the balance, a band of Greatest Generation heroes fight against all odds to accomplish a miracle. They save a new nation.―Reviewed by Capt. Kathy Royer (United, Ret.)


Publisher: W.W. Norton & Co.
Pages: 421
Available at: All booksellers

This article was originally published in the May 2018 issue of Air Line Pilot.

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