LOS ANGELES — After a 64-year detour, Mitchell Flint, a former fighter pilot for the US and Israel, has finally landed for the London Olympic Games.
In the summer of 1948, Flint, with a four-year wartime stint as a US Navy fighter pilot in the Pacific under his belt, graduated as an industrial engineer from the Berkeley campus of the University of California. At the same time, the newly declared State of Israel was struggling to defend itself from six invading Arab armies.
“I’m Jewish, Israel desperately needed trained fighter pilots, so I thought I could perhaps do something to sustain the state,” Flint recalls.
Applying for a passport in San Francisco, Flint was asked by an official about the purpose of his trip. It was illegal for an American citizen to fight for a foreign nation, so Flint, on the spur of the moment, said, “I’m going to London to see the Olympics.”