The Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington recently wrote about a memorial service held for Arthur Welsh, an influential aviation pioneer and our country’s first Jewish aviator.
Welsh, born Laibel Willcher in Russia, emigrated with his parents to America as a boy. He served in the Navy and eventually found his way to the inner circle of the Wright brothers where he served as a test pilot (weren’t they all in those days?) and a flight instructor. One of his students was none other than Henry H. (Hap) Arnold, who later became a five-star General and the U.S. Army Air Chief of Staff during World War II.
In his autobiography, Global Mission, General Henry Arnold wrote of Welsh, “He taught me everything I know, but he knew much more.”
As a Jewish aviator myself, I can’t help but be moved by this amazing story. There is a more detailed account of Welsh’s story available online at the online exhibit available at the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington’s website.