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US aviator who helped form Israeli Air Force dies at 94

In this May 15, 2008, photo provided by Michael Flint, his father, 101 Squadron veteran Mitchell Flint, right, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, attends Israel's 60th Independence anniversary at the Keneseth in Jerusalem. Flint, an American aviator who helped form the Israeli Air Force in 1948 and served in Israel's first fighter squadron has died at age 94. Flint, a former US Navy fighter pilot, died Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, in Los Angeles of natural causes, said his son, Michael Flint. (Michael Flint/Mitchell Flint Collection via AP)
September 16, 2017 - 9:53 PM

LOS ANGELES - Mitchell Flint, an American aviator who helped form the Israeli Air Force in 1948 and served in Israel's first fighter squadron has died. He was 94.

Flint, a former US Navy fighter pilot, died Saturday in Los Angeles of natural causes, said his son, Michael Flint.

Flint was one of the founding members of "Machal," a group of non-Israelis who fought in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. He was one of the original members of the Israeli Air Force's first fighter squadron and helped train Israel's first military pilots, his son said.

Flint and other members of the Machal had flown in German planes that were captured during World War II and covered the Nazi insignia with Stars of David. He flew in rebuilt Messerschmitts, Germany's main fighter plane during World War II, as well as Mustangs and Spitfires.

When he returned to the United States, Flint moved to Los Angeles and became a lawyer. He continued flying until last year, his son said.

"He was a humble man who did what he did and never looked for glory," Michael Flint said of his father. "He was proud of what he did until the very end."

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Follow Michael Balsamo on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/MikeBalsamo1

News from © The Associated Press, 2017
The Associated Press

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