For more than thirty years, Giora Even-Epstein flew fighters for the Israel Air Force, achieving recognition as a highly skilled military aviator and the highest-scoring jet-mounted ace with the most number of confirmed victories in the French Mirage. Having overcome numerous hurdles just to learn how to fly, he went on to compile a record of Arab MiGs and Sukhoi kills that bettered any other combat aviators’ tally in the entire world.
This fast-moving autobiography details his experiences particularly in the intense conflicts of 1967, the Six Day War, and 1973, the Yom Kippur War. The reader shares the cockpit with him as he describes every action he undertook with 101 and 105 Squadron, including the greatest jet-versus-jet air battle in history with four MiG-21 kills in one engagement. His final score was seventeen aerial victories.
After his last battle he became commander of the First Jet Squadron, 117, began civilian flying, retrained to command 254 MMR Squadron in the 1982 Lebanon War, and flew the F-16 at the age of fifty before retirement. Along the way he met numerous fighter pilot legends such as Douglas Bader, Al Deere, Pierre Clostermann and Randy Cunningham.
Affable and enthusiastic, Giora gained the nickname ‘Hawkeye’ because of his amazing vision of more than 20/15, enabling him to pick out enemy aircraft long before his squadron mates. His story is of one man’s unfaltering dedication to his dreams and his country. As the leading jet ace it is one well worth telling and, critically, it can be told in his own words.
Giora Even-Epstein was born in 1938 on an Israeli kibbutz and spent his early years in agricultural schools. He became fascinated with military aircraft and the aces who flew them. He desperately wanted to fly the French Mirage III but was turned down for flight training because of a heart defect. He tried again, was turned down again, but was incredibly accepted as a paratrooper. After 500 jumps, he tried again to enrol in the IAF pilot training programme and was accepted, eventually gaining his wings to fly and fight during the critical periods of the Israel Air Force’s combat history. In 2019, after years of retirement, he was promoted to brigadier general and today lives peacefully in Tel Aviv.