Israel first Air Force pilot Danny Shapira dies, cause of death explained

Danny Shapira, one of Israel’s first Air Force pilots, passed away at the age of 97. Let’s see How did Israel first Air Force pilot Danny Shapira die and Danny Shapira cause of death in detail.

How did Danny Shapira die?

Danny Shapira, a graduate of the Israeli Air Force’s initial pilot training program, passed away on November 9, 2022,at the age of 97.

Shapira oversaw numerous significant aerial missions and was one of the first IAF pilots to don wings.

Danny Shapira cause of death

Danny Shapira cause of death was not disclosed yet. There are no information available about Danny Shapira cause of death.

Medico topics have been trying to reach out to the family and relatives for comment on the incident. So far no responses have been received. We will update the page once enough information is available. More information on Danny Shapira cause of death will be added soon.


Who was Danny Shapira?

Shapira, a fifth-generation Sabra who was born in Jerusalem in 1925, remembers watching two British planes and Germany’s Graf Zeppelin passenger airship sail over Haifa when he was a small boy.

He told The Jerusalem Post in a 2018 interview,

“I started when we didn’t have our own country, our own army or air force. We didn’t fight with weapons, but we fought with our hearts; we had to win,”

“The wish for freedom, sacrifice, dedication, and the dream to have our own country under our own flag is what won the War of Independence.”

Danny Shapira (Image : Twitter)

Hagana’s Sherut Avir (Air Service)

Shapira enlisted in the Hagana’s Sherut Avir (Air Service), the precursor to the Israel Air Force, where he learned to fly before turning 18 and becoming a glider teacher.

Shapira and another 100 licensed pilots were enlisted after it was decided to form the State of Israel to begin spying on the Jewish yishuvim (communities) encircling Jerusalem and delivering supplies like weapons under the guise of private flights.

Combat pilot course in Czechoslovakia

Shapira received a message one morning informing him that he and 10 other pilots had been chosen to attend an advanced combat pilot course in Czechoslovakia.

He told,

“We bought arms from whoever was ready to give us, and Czechoslovakia was the only country really willing to sell us planes.

We left for the course in Czechoslovakia just two days before the declaration of the State of Israel.”

The irony of the young Jewish pilots starting their training on the German Messerschmitt Me-109 just years after the Holocaust ended was not lost on Shapira.

He said with a smile,

“It was very weird,”

“the fact that there was no air force or air academy for us back in Israel at that time gave us the motivation to learn as much as we could.”


Israel sent George Lichter, a former Mahal pilot and member of the US Air Force, to coach the Israeli cadets, who up until that point had only had ad hoc military instruction from the Hagana and Palmah.

Only four pilots, including Shapira and the late Maj.-Gen., passed Litscher’s rigorous, disciplined American method of training.

Litscher flew with each pilot to determine whether they met his criteria. Mordechai (Motti) Hod, who eventually led the Israel Air Force, was then known as Motti Fein.

Shapira was picked by Lichter to be the first pilot of the British Spitfire aircraft that Israel had just acquired from the Czechs after flying the Messerschmitt.

Despite some difficulties, Shapira managed to land the Spitfire successfully after the man took off alone in the aircraft.

Shapira, who did not even have his pilot’s wings at the time, made his first of many test flights.

War of Independence

When the Israeli War of Independence began, Shapira was in Europe. As part of the infamous Velvetta mission, he and 13 other pilots transported Spitfires from Czechoslovakia to Israel via Yugoslavia; two of the other pilots perished in the journey.

The planes took part in Operation Horev the day after they returned to Israel, which was a crucial part of the massive onslaught against the Egyptian Army in the western Negev toward the end of the War of Independence.

Shapira and the other three young Israelis received their wings on March 14, 1949, a “historic day,” making them the State of Israel’s first four aviators.

“It was the beginning of the Israel Air Force,” 

“We were cadets, and the air force gave us priority and promoted us to the positions we later held.”

From that point on, Shapira continued to fly continuously until the age of 72, logging more than 12,000 flight hours and setting and shattering several records.

He told the Post,

“Every new plane that Israel received, I flew on it,”

adding that it was “important to be one of the first” to fly for Israel.

First Western pilot

Shapira attributed another significant milestone in his career, the Iraqi MiG-21 defecting in 1966 during an operation run by Mossad, to the close alliance between the US Air Force and Israel, which sold Israel the F-16s and F-15s.

He became the first Western pilot to fly the Russian-built jet after it landed in Israel, discovering the aircraft’s tactical weak points without the use of a flight manual or checklist.

Then he was dispatched to the US on a covert mission to instruct American pilots who were up against the same planes in Vietnam after flying against expert Israeli pilots to demonstrate the tactics that eventually lead them to shoot down numerous enemy planes.

When the F-35I, the most modern American jet to date, touched down in Israel, the American pilots lined up to shake his hand, he told the Post, adding,

“Since I gave the briefing to the Americans in Vietnam, relations between us have only gotten closer.”

“The American general told me that the friendship between our two countries is now forever. I sure hope that’s true.”

Funeral Services

The funeral will be held on Sunday at 11:00 a.m. at the Morasha Junction Ramat Hasharon Cemetery.

He also left behind a daughter, two sons, great-grandchildren, and grandchildren.

Tributes to Danny Shapira

Sharyar Shirazi tweeted,

“RIP. Read abt him in history books.”

Wilbright Insurance Agencies tweeted,

“May he keep flying, my condolences to the family, friends and the airborne fraternity.”

B-21 R(in)aider tweeted,

“RIP and Blue Skies!”

Yedid-El Dell tweeted,

“May he rest in Peace! My condolences to his family and friends, to the Israeli Armed Forces, and to Am Israel !”

Marylinne Friedman tweeted,

“The Greatest Generation. May the memory of Danny Shapira forever be a blessing.”

One of the worst things anyone can go through in life is losing a loved one. Any journey must have a destination at the end. The person’s time on earth has regrettably come to an end now that they have died.

We wish him eternal peace and send our thoughts and prayers to his loved ones, family, friends. May he rest in peace.


Who is James Leonard? Is he the murderer of four Idaho university students? Explained

Who was Pilot Mark Jenkins? How did Prince William and Kate Middleton’s friend die? plane crash, explained

Follow us on Twitter for more updates.

Leave a Comment