Military


Lebanese Air Force

During the Arabs-Israelli war back in 1948. The confronting parties: Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Israel already all had "Air Forces". That took part in the confrontations except for Lebanon who was lacking this kind of force. The armed Forces commander at that time, general Fouad Shehab sensed this deficiency during the battle in the south and decided early in 1949 to fill the gap. On may the 13th 1949, general Shehab sent Lt. Colonel Emil Boustany the deputy chief of the staff and director of administration and assigned to him the mission of constructing and establishing an Air force. In reality this force would be created from scratch. But Why select Lt. Colonel Boustany?

Back in 1933-1934 Lt, Colonel Boustany, then Lt. Boustany was an instructor and a teacher of the first year students at the Military School. In 1945 he was assigned with the French Army Command in Lebanon as the Head Staff Office of the special army of the orient. General Shehab, founder and commander of the first Lebanese army asked Lt. Colonel Boustany to organize the various departments of the Facit Army. He established and headed the first bureau, the second bureau then became the first deputy chief of staff and the first director of the telephone service. For his organized capabilities, he was assigned to establish and organize the Air Force and actually became the first Air Force Commander. In June 1st 1949, the Air Force was born in Rayak Air Base, Lt. Colonel Emil Boustany became the first Air Force and also Air Base Commander. His official nomination on the first of July 1949. Lt. Colonel Boustany was then neither a pilot nor a flight technician but he was still assigned to this position because at that time, there was not in the whole Lebanese Army, neither a pilot nor a flight specialist. The command was therefore obliged to select between the best fit for the task as for his organizational capabilities and potential. This led to Lt. Colonel Boustany who had already succeeded in organizing the staff, the administration and army services.

When he assumed responsibility, Lt. Colonel Boustany found himself actually stranger to the special language of Air instructors, technicians and students. How would he understand their aviation language and expressions and discuss with them in depth the various issues, technical matters, and proper courses of action? Hence, he asked permission from the Army Commander to apply for and attend flight lessons with all their practical, technical, and theoretical aspects. When the chief of staff at that time Colonel Toufic Salem received his application, he called for him saying "we did not assign you as an Air Force Commander to become really a pilot, for your age (40 years) does not allow you that. We only need you for organizational considerations". Lt. Colonel Boustany insisted on his demand and for the Army Commander final word in this regard. The Army Commander summoned him and debating, he became convinced and issued the relevant service note.

The Aircraft of the triumphant allies were landing at the start within the small area between the bridge of Beirut and Al-Dora to the north. Soon after they took hold of Rayak Military Airport, which was constructed by the German Forces in World War One. They enlarged the Airport and French aviation and flight specialists stared training a number of Lebanese personnel on Aircraft mechanics. Back in 1933, the French have had already established a civil airport at "Bir-Hassan" in Beirut, to serve the needs of Lebanon and neighboring countries in the Middle East. It was abandoned later on year 1950. The entry of the British and De-Gaullists troops to Lebanon in 1914, had a remarcable effect for they constructed many small airports in different parts of the country such as: Istabl Airport to the south of the town Chtoura (it was used as a school of aviation in 1956), Marj-ouyoun airport, Iaat airport to north west of the city of Baalbek which was used for landing and take-off training on piston engine aircraft. Later, its runways became non-serviceable and have been utilized for air to ground shooting training. At last, they constructed Kleiat Airport. All these airports were later neglected with the exception of Kleiat-Airport and Iaat Airport, which is still utilized as a shooting field for the aircraft. On August 1st 1945, with the commencement of independence, the state of Lebanon took hold of her army together with the Battalion of the first airbase (Rayak). The Kleiat Airport was enlarged and the International Airport of Beirut was inaugurated in 1950. The Lebanese civil airlines companies soon equaled the international air companies as to the quality of their airplanes or their flight crews and technicians.

Since evacuated by the French Air Force in 1949 and left there after deserted for several years, the air base turned into a miserable condition and the guards who were supposed to protect the base made sure to rob its contents in whole. The Germans and their allies built Rayak Air Base during the First World War. The army command decided to rebuild the air base. Reconstruction work took more than two months and comprised the administration building, hangars, the control tower, the officers club, houses, the parachutes tower, the Barracks, water pipes, electrical and telephone extensions, runways, control heating, and workshops.

The first assigned officers to the base were: Deputy Commander Lt. Ahmad Arab, Administrative officer Antranik Tatoussian, service battalion officer Victor Charles, recruitment and technicians started with hundred personnel, many of those have had already some prior experience with the French. A first course of students pilots was organized to include: Lt. Ali Abboud, Sergeants John Ayoub and Izat Hariri, civil pilots Hassan Badawi, René Abdallah, Michel Nawfal and Emil Succar. The Aircraft of the triumphant allies were landing at the start within the small area between the bridge of Beirut and Al-Dora to the north. Soon after they took hold of Rayak Military Airport, which was constructed by the German Forces in World War One. They enlarged the Airport and French aviation and flight specialists stared training a number of Lebanese personnel on Aircraft mechanics. Bach in 1933, the French have had already established a civil airport at "Bir-Hassan" in Beirut, to serve the needs of Lebanon and neighboring countries in the Middle East. It was abandoned later on year 1950.

The entry of the British and De-Gaullists troops to Lebanon in 1914. had a remarkable effect for they constructed many small airports in different parts of the country such as: Istabl Airport to the south of the town Chtoura (it was used as a school of aviation in 1956), Marj-ouyoun airport, Iaat airport to north west of the city of Baalbek which was used for landing and take-off training on piston engine aircraft. Later, its runways became non-serviceable and have been utilized for air to ground shooting training. At last, they constructed Kleiat Airport. All these airports were later neglected with the exception of Kleiat-Airport and Iaat Airport, which is still utilized as a shooting field for the aircraft. On August 1st 1945, with the commencement of independence, the state of Lebanon took hold of her army together with the Battalion of the first airbase (Rayak). The Kleiat Airport was enlarged and the International Airport of Beirut was inaugurated in 1950. The Lebanese civil airlines companies soon equaled the international air companies as to the quality of their airplanes or their flight crews and technicians.

Since the army had an air force now, the army commander decided at last to resort to force to put an end to a group of outlaws seeking refuge in Hermel barren heights in Bekaa. This group remained for a long period, insubordinate to the authorities even in the times of the ottomans and French, for they were always well armed and resorts after each act of violation to laws, to hide in the inaccessible high and distant mountain. In order to search out and collect information, a special force unit for internal security was formed in Bekaa its main task was to seek and collect information and news regarding any breach of the law any disturbance of the civil peace, smuggling operations across the eastern and northern borders, and any infiltration of the outlaws. Lt Colonel Boustany, the air force commander was assigned on the head of this unit in addition to his basic command. He issued orders to the air force to initiate surveillance flights over the rebellious area.

On the 20th of August 1949, a military operation was launched with the aid of the air force. When the outlaws realized that the Air Force can reach them no matter where they are and that they no longer have any shelter or refuge to protect them, they decided to submit and abide by the law and entered in negotiations with the authorities. Marshal "Lioti" once said, "show your force to avoid using it". The army took over their shelters and villages and ever since, they remained loyal to their country. The Army Commander decided to take advantage of the success of the operation and benefit from its effect not only on the minds of the tribes men, but also on the minds of the whole citizens. He therefore issued an order to the Air force to fly at low level over all the Lebanese districts in all directions and to cross over the presidential palace in Beit el Din where the president is passing his summer vacation. On October 19, 1949 General Fouad Shehab, the Army Commander made an inspection visit to the base and learned about its progress. The Air force Commander resisted in the airbase as from October 1, 1949 when his private residence became ready.

After one month of flight training with, and under the supervision of the British instructor "Wallis". Lt. Colonel Boustany made his first "Solo" flight on November 16th, 1949. He flew a "Prentice" aircraft, following 20 hours of double flights with his instructor. When he was left alone with the plane, he thought to himself "wouldn't it had been better if the instructor was still on my side?" When he took-off towards the sky, this feeling of anxiety soon left him.On October the 17th 1949, the British General "Hayes" the supreme commander of the British troops in the Middle East, visited Rayak Air base and had lunch with its officers and the British squad there. He was very pleased with his visit.

During the French mandate, Rayak Air base was seen as the "jewel" of the Air bases and the center of attraction of all other military units, not only in Lebanon but also in mandated Syria and all the near east. This Air base embraced all entertainment facilities, luxuries, flowering gardens, central heating, and fascinating buildings etc, which were not found elsewhere in military sites. When the Lebanese army restored the base, he did not bring it only to its original state, but improved it much better, besides its nice Location between the green plains of Bekaa with no trace of high buildings. its only disadvantage, which was not existing before the jet flights, is the mountain chains that surround it from the east and the west, which represents some obstacles before these jet flights. Rayak air base remained after it moved to the hands of the Lebanese, the center of attraction to all civilians and military men. Many important people went to visit the air base, such as the marquise DE Freij and his wife (on 26 September 1949), the president of the Lebanese Red Cross and many groups of people and students. They all had come to admire its elegant architecture, its aircraft; old and new and the Lebanese skilled pilots.

Before establishing the Air Force, the Lebanese army command delegated to the military aviation school in "Alnairib" Airport near Aleppo city in Syria, four military personnel to attend the school as pilots' students. They were: Lt Ali Abboud, Joseph Louteif Emile Succar and john Ayoub. There, they met two German flight instructors who participated in the Second World War from 1939 to 1945 on the Russian front and were between the first to fly the jet fighter aircraft "Messrschmidt". When the war was over and the whole German armed forces were demobilized as a result of judgment of Nuremberg those two pilots like many others went to seek work outside their country.

Both captains' pilots "Alwin Moyer" and "Fritz Stehle" found work in Syria as fligh5t instructors in the aviation school at "Neirib" near Aleppo city. They started training Syrian pilots students as well as the four Lebanese pilots students with whom they became friends. When their contract with the Syrians came to an end, they suggested to the Lebanese students to work as instructors at the Lebanese Aviation School if and whenever established. Their demand was conveyed to the Lebanese Army command and approved by the army commander, and were as such recruited. The Air force was completely satisfied to have had such experienced instructors in the school. This steps was very successful where the Air Force had their possessed an expert team of foreign flight instructors, who actually shares in Air Battles during the Second World War. Between these instructors, there were four from British Royal Air Force, four from the Italian Air Force and two from the German Air Force the luft wafee. All means of decent accommodation and lodging were provided for these officers. It turned out that they were most satisfied enjoyed their stay in Lebanon and were all willing to renew their yearly contracts.

During the Independence Day parade on 22nd June 1949, the military aircraft of the Lebanese Air Force shared for the first time in the parade. The audiences were astounded, how in such a short period of less than three months, the Lebanese pilots became capable of flying in well disciplined formations, and for this they all received the commendation of the president of the republic, the army commander and the Air Force commander. This was the second trip to the Air Force commander to the United Kingdom to acquire more aircraft and air equipments. After completion of the first phase of training, the Air Force started looking for fighter aircraft. The army commander had already made contacts with the U.S.A for the purpose of acquiring "Harvard" type aircraft it came to its knowledge that this type of aircraft was available in the U.K and therefore contacts were made with the U.S ambassador in England to this effect, contacts were also made with the British aircraft manufacturing company "De Havilland" and agreement was reached to supply the Lebanese Air Force with the bi-engine aircraft type "Dove" mainly for air navigation training purp oses. The Lebanese ambassador invited the Air Force commander to a lunch table, which was held in honor of the Lebanese foreign minister at that time Mr. Philippe Takla and attended by his colleague the British foreign minister Mr. Ernest Bevin.

On 1st of July 1950 the president of the republic inaugurated the new international airport in Khalde. He called for the Air Force to share in the occasion and the Air Force aircraft, flown by Lebanese pilots, accomplished the mission. The French air school "salon" conducts international yearly tour using two big transport aeroplanes. This time it was to the Middle East countries. And since their tour considered an official visit, colonel "Leroy" the chief of the school paid a visit to the presidential palace and signed his name on the honorary register. This was on the 23rd of July 1950. There after, Lt colonel Boustany, the air force commander, accompanied by a delegation of officers pilots, visited colonel "Leroy" in Beirut and invited him and his group to a cocktail part at Tanios hotel in Aley. on the 24th of July, the French school members and personnel, visited Rayak air base and shared lunch with their officers left the base on the next day. On 22nd of november1950 the air force made his second participation in the Independence Day. All aircraft shared and the air school squadron was also there.

On the 25th of July 1950 a tragic accident happened to a Middle East airlines M.E.A "Dakota" aircraft. The aircraft was on its way from Jerusalem to Beirut when an Israeli military aircraft opened fire at the Lebanese-Israeli borders. The radio operator "Antoine wazir" on the "Dakota" plane was hit by a deadly bullet while sitting on his chair near the pilot. The Israeli minister of information made an official claim that the Lebanese aeroplane lost its way and penetrated the Israeli skies. His claim could not be confirmed or denied, except that the Lebanese pilot stated that he did not loose his way.

The world health organization established in Bekaa an insecticide center, and one of the best means to eliminate insects by using small aeroplanes, specially equipped for this purpose (spraying aeroplanes). The director of the organization in Lebanon Mr. Feldman asked the army commander for help in vital task, especially to fight the fatal "Malaria" disease caused by these insects. The demand was transferred to the Lt. colonel Boustany, who found that using the air force small aeroplane "Macchi" could do the job after incorporating minor modifications to make it fit for the job. Contacts and discussions were made in July 1951 and soon after, work began and successful results were achieved, especially against the swamps of "Ammik". On 5 December 1951, the Lebanese Red Cross assigned eight ladies nurses to be trained inside the aeroplanes on case of rescue missions. They were presided by miss "Eva Helou" the sister of the future president to come Mr. Charles Helou. The training lasted for one complete week.

On January 9, 1951 the army commander assigned Lt. Colonel in a mission to Italy to procure spare parts for the bomber aircraft "Savoia- Marchetti". Italian specialists working with the Lebanese Air Force accompanied him. The delegation met with the Italian air ministry, seeking their assistance, for this type of aircraft was no longer on production. The Italian authorities responded to his request, he remained in Italy until 19th of January, and then he returned back to complete his mission when the required parts were secured by the Italian air ministry and received and shipped to Lebanon. On the 18th of March 1951, the Italian ambassador made a visit to the airbase to inspect the Italian squad there. Lt colonel Boustany accompanied by a German instructor and an Italian pilot took a flight trip with the Dove aircraft to " kamishly" a town in northern Syria, when he met by accident some of his relatives living there. The visit took a place in November 1951.

On the occasion of the third anniversary of the Lebanese Air Force, a splendid air parade was organized in Rayak airbase on the 1st of June 1952. The parade was attended by Mr. Georges Haimary as representative of the president of the republic, General Shehab; the army commander with his wife, brigadier general Nour Eldine Alrifaii; governor of the Bekaa, Sheikh Mounir Takieldine; ministry of defense, Mr. Youssef el Hrawi; deputy of Bekaa, colonel Toufic Salem; chief of staff, colonel Ibrahim Sumrani;director of services, doctor captain Youssef Hakim; the district doctor, all arab and foreign military attaches, families and the students pilots; instructors and foreign technicians in the base with there families, the family of the Air Force commander and the families of the Lebanese soldiers and NCOs. It was an ideal and perfect parade by testimony of foreign experts.

Graduations and examinations for the first Air Force course, took place on July 1st 1952. The examination committee was formed of British pilots from the royal air force who attended especially from the royal air force in "Akrotiri" in Cyprus and conducted the theoretical and practical flight exams. Their technicians conducted the technical exams. The Lebanese students were: Student pilot René Abadally (a civilian), Student pilot Michael Nawfal (a civilian), Student pilot Izaat Harriri (army sergeant), and Student pilot Jean Ayoub (army sergeant).

While in Rome, on his way back to Lebanon, the air force commander, met with the Lebanese ambassador to Rome who handed him a telegram, reporting the tragic death of the Lebanese Lt pilot Georges Rahal, when he crashed down with his "vampire" jet trainer aircraft during air combat training in England. At that time, Lebanon was not yet equipped with this type of aircraft. On July 16 1952, the air force suffered from the first crash of a trainer aircraft. On board that aircraft were the pilot Jean Ayoub with his co-pilot private George Kouzhaya, both were killed in the accident and the aircraft was totally destroyed. Investigation revealed that the pilot was performing acrobatic movements over his fiancée's home in a town in the south named "Jezzine" showing-off his skill, when he dived steeply towards the earth and could not stabilize his aircraft anymore, it went to hit the mountain terrain and crash.

On the 1st of July 1952 a service memo was issued carrying the promotion of the air force commander to a colonel. On 27 August 1953, the first batch of the six vampire aircraft purchased from the British firm "De Havilland" arrived in Beirut airport. The air force commander in the presence of the firm representative in Lebanon and the media received the aircraft. This new type of jet aircraft brought the Lebanese air force to the international advanced standard between most of the third world states. This aircraft constituted the first bomber squadron in Lebanon. On 27 October 1953. The second course of pilots was graduator. The pilots were: Joseph Kourtabany, George Gharib, Fouad Houssamy and George Aoude. The president of the republic Mr. Kamil Chamoun attended in person the ceremony, in order to encourage more young men to enlist. With him came the head of the parliament Mr. Adel Oussayran, the Prime Minister Mr. Abdullah el Yafi, ministers: Pierre Eddeh, Bachir el Awar, Nazih el Bizri, the chief of the police Salah Lababidi, the director of civil aviation Mr. Fouad Shader, and a number of senior employees and senior officers such as General Fouad Chehab; the army commander Colonel Toufic Salem; the chief of staff, Colonel Adel Cheham; commander of the bekaa district. From the air base came the instructors, technicians with their families, Lebanese officers and NCOs with their families and a large number of civilians. While watching the air parade a small aeroplane "Macchi" type landed in front of the platform and came out a young girl at her 15th of age carrying a bundle of roses with the shape of cedar, which she presented to the president. The audience applauded long to the young girl. She was Lili Boustany the air force commander's daughter.

After remaining in Rayak airbase for a period of for and a half years, the army commander decided to reallocate the air force command in Beirut as on 1st of December 1954, and keeping the airbase command in Rayak. Colonel Boustany was given a second job as director of the engineering works in addition to his first job as air force commander. Colonel Wajih Karam the air force assistant commander was assigned as the new commander of Rayak airbase. In view of broadened and intensified activities of the air force and the increasing number of the aircraft, colonel "Sinclair" the chief of the British detachment recommended to look for a new land on the seaside to construct a new airbase because the Bekaa Valley is not fit for night flaying by jet aircraft. On 1st February 1954 the air force commander, accompanied by Colonel Sinclair made an inspection tour along the Lebanese coastal line, without finding a satisfactory location for day and night jet flying. At the end, it was decided to contract a second airbase at Khalde international airport, which was scheduled for inauguration on 23rd of April.

The "Savoy Marchetti" bombers aircraft became in need for a general over hand. An Italian air technician was called for from Italy, his name was Mr. "Ventriglia" he inspected the state of the aircraft and decided that they should be moved to Italy for overhand at the manufactures premises in "Varese". The Italian authorities gave their consent and the aircraft were to be flown one after the other to Italy. The first aircraft took of on 24 of December 1954 flown by the Italian pilot "Rivalta" and the crew was consisting of Mr. Leoni and warrant officers Elias Saade as technicians and the radio operator Nassif Riachi. While flying over Turkey and in particular over the Anadol region, the aircraft faced a technical failure and had to execute a forced landing in a plain between Izmir and Istanbul. The landing was safe and the air force commander who was informed about the accident by telegram, asked for help through the Turkish military attaché in Beirut. The Turkish authorities provided the needed support and the aircraft took-off again. A letter of appreciation was dressed to the Turkish authorities to this end.

On 28 November 1954, the American general "Glandburg" the US air force commander in West Tripoli arrived in Beirut and paid a visit to Rayak airbase.

On 1st January 1954, the army commander ordered formation of new air defense battalion to be located in Al-Ouzaii Barrach at the vicinity of the Beirut international airport.

While existing in the Lebanese territorial waters, to execute a marine-air maneuver shared by the RAF aircraft from Cyprus, one of the aircraft suffered a technical failure and crashed down into the sea. The British frigate "Aisen" conducted a search and rescue mission for the aircraft and its crew and fleet admiral "Watson" called for help from the Lebanese air force. The Lebanese aircraft responded and one of its pilots was able to locate a pilot's dinghy, which was regretfully empty. (Doc.239)

On 6 June 1955, a British new trainer aircraft type "Beaver" was demonstrated in Rayak airbase and some of the Lebanese pilots carried flight tests on it.

On 3rd of July 1955, a clash took place between outlaws and security forces. Support was called for from the air force as the outlaws sought refuge again in the rough and remote barrens and high mountains of Hermoul. By an order of the air force commander (who was assigned at that time also as district commander), an infantry force circulated the outlaws and they were threatened to surrender or face bombing. They immediately surrender. The air force commander, realizing how rough and inaccessible this region was, asked when he became later the commander of the north district to open several roads and supervised their accomplishment in person.

The higher authorities decided to consider year 1955 as a touristy year. Having noticed in previous occasion, the splendid effect and impact the air force parade have left on the public, the president of the republic requested that the air force should participate also on this occasion. The army commander was also in favor of this decision because he wanted to demonstrate to the government and the public, the progress of the air force and its accomplished advanced level in just few years. The air force commander summoned the technicians, specialists and pilots and briefed them about the nature and objectives of this particular mission from all aspects. Everyone approved the plan and undertook to spare no effort for its ultimate success for this accomplishment will provoke the attention and admiration of not only the Lebanese public but also the attention and admiration of the foreign audience and the military attaches and the well informed and outstanding experts in the art of flying. After the approval of the army commander on the plan, training exercises started and the ceremony and air parade was decided to take place in Khlalde international airport. The air show was in fact spectacular, firing with live ammunition at real targets, to place at a distance less than 500meters from the audience. This stunned everyone including the foreign military attaches, the foreign experts and the war pilots who were present at the scene. Follower where the scenes of air dog fighting, acrobatic moves, vertical climb, and vertical descent, executed by officer pilot Michael Nawfal on a jet aircraft who excelled and distinguished him in these particular moments, so did his magnificent colleagues.

When the ceremony ended congratulations and commendations flew coming from the president, the prime minister, the minister members of the parliament the army commander Fouad Chehab, senior officials, ambassadors, military attaches, air lines managers, notable persons, officers of all ranks and so many civilians. The ceremony remained the talk of the town for a long period. The foreign instructors and pilots who trained or young pilots were most satisfied for they realized that there efforts and scarifies worked out miracles in this short time and at the end, the air force officers and personnel moral was at it's peak. As a consequence of this amazing success, the army commander called for the air force commander in the following day and congratulated him. He then asked for information and suggestions about new aircraft fighters to be procured to the air force. After studying and consulting with the foreign experts, the choice felled on the British jet fighter aircraft "Hawker Hunter" Replacement of the chief of the British detachment, colonel Sinclair On 30 October 1955, colonel "Blachmort" arrived in rayak air base as a successor to colonel Sinclair; he presented himself to the air base commander on 31 of October and took charge of his work on 1st of November.

The existing friendship between the pilots all over the world is firm and permanent:On 24th December 1955, the French pilot "louis lannata" who fought in world war one (1940-1980) as a first echelon fighter pilot, and who opened in 1930 the maritime air line between Marseille and Beirut, visited colonel Boustany in his office and asked him in the name of their carrier companion ship, to intermediate with the brigadier Toufic Salem, the army chief of stuff, to receive a certain document. Colonel Boustany responded and the demand was consented to. Retired Colombian pilot Valdez, who had lost his right leg during war with gangsters in his country came with his wife to visit Lebanon for he had had many Lebanese friends and between them were Lebanese officers pilots. He arrived in Rayak Airbase on the 31st for march 1955 and congratulated his colleagues for the formation of the new Air force. An official to Baghdad (Iraq) to discuss Aviation matters On 14 may 1955. colonel Boustany headed to Baghdad to discuss with the Authorities there matters pertaining to Aviation and training, he was accompanied by: LT Ahmad Arab, LT George Gharib and LT Amin Nasser Eldin, they held meetings with the Iraqi Air Force officials and attended Receptions in the presence of his majesty king Faysal the second.

During the French mandate period, the French Air for recommended and helped in establishing a civil Aviation club at Rayak Air base for helping Lebanese young men to learn flying. The club was first presided by the Mr Anis trade. After passing away, his brother Mr. Gabriel Trad tooth over the responsibility. This club was not only considered an Aero club but alls an entertainment club for the high class and aristocratic community. The club owned at first three "luiole" training Airplanes, but after the departure of the French in 1946, its activities started to feeble, prince Riyad Arslan the brother of the Ministry of defense at that time prince Majid Arslane, took care of the club for same time then it was handed over to the Air Force and was closed at the end of 1955. In August 1956 the Ex-president of the club "Mr. Gabriel Trad" asked the Army commander General Fouad Chehab to support efforts to restore activities of the club. The Army commander responded and the club resumed its activity again as from 1st September 1956. the Air Force provided two "Cessna" type Airplanes to the club which pair for their price and one civil flight Instructor. The club was considered the first source of young men willing to fair the Air Force. Mr. Gabriel Trad, President of the civil Aero-club asked president of the Republic for a financial aid to the club. The President sought the opinion of the Air force commander and for this, a meeting was held on of March, 1957. Comprising of the president, of the Republic Mr. Camille Chaumont, the Air force commander; col. Boustany and Mr. Gabriel Trad; president of the club. "The Army commander approved on the presence of the Air force commander". The president became convinced of the idea that the club is preparing and sorting out young men, who are willing to join. The Air force as pilots and approved a financial aid to the club to be allocated on 1958 budget.

On 29 august 1956 one aircraft company representative, Mr. Richard abd-Elnour, paid a visit to the Air Force commander and discussed with him about a US Helicopter Type "Bell" which arrived lately in Beirut for flight demonstration for they are willing to offer for sale this Helicopter to the Lebanese Air Force the Helicopter carried a flight demonstration and was tested by the Air Force commander and the Air force pilots and instructors, in flight trips between Beirut and Tripoli.

On may 1957, the Air force commander received a letter from the General manager of the Syrian Air Lines "Brigadier General Abd el-Wahab el-Hakim" asking his collaboration to facilitate the mission of an envoy from his part. To pursue execution of a long over due order of Aviation Spare parts, with a Lebanon trades-man. The Air force commander responded and the results came out most satisfactory.

King of Iraq Faysal the second wanted to donate to Lebanon six advanced trainer Aircraft Type "Harvard". When the president of the Republic accepted the fight, the Lebanese Air commander Headed towards Baghdad on 16 May 1957 to finalize the matter with the Iraqi Authorities, LT General Aref; the Army commander and General Kazim Abadi; the Air Force Commander. The donated Aircraft were then inspected and found to be in excellent condition and Totally renewed to zero how flight. Colonel Boustany invited General Abadi to visit Lebanon, which he did on 30 May 1957.

In order to encourage the youth to become fond of flying, the Air force commander thought to establish in Rayak Air base a sail planes (gliders) Aviation school aimed at giving civilians flight lessons on free of charge basis. This idea was brought up because the Aero-club was charging a certain Tariff on each flight hour which only very few could afford paying it. The Army commander approved the plan after knowing all details and convinced of its benefits and good effects on the young. The school was inaugurated in June 1957 in good adherence to the birth of the Air forth on 1st June 1949. It commenced its activities as from date and large numbers of young men and women joined the school. Between these, was the only son of the Air force Commander.

On 11 June 1957 another tragic accident occurred to student pilot Michael Al Ashkar who crashed with his plane near "Al Istable Airport". The young pilot was billed in the accident and his plane completely destroyed. Investigations attributed the accident to human error but the Air force commander was not completely satisfied and went in person, accompanied by a British Instructor who was the chief of the British detachment, and executed the same flight tour on the same type of Aircraft and repeated the same flight movements that led to the accident and the fatal mistake that the late student pilot had committed was soon unveiled. It is known in the filled of flight training that there are mistakes and there are sins which are apt to committed by the student pilot when he taken over in his first solo drive. Mistakes are numerous and are all risky but sins are mostly fatal. When the student pilot flies "solo" for the fist time in his life, he might feel same self conceit and becomes "over confident" to commit at the end a disaster. This is well known in the world of young pilots flying "solo" for the first time and this is the main cause of same of their traffic accidents all over the world. On 14 march 1963. Mr. Emile Mourchid Boustany owner of the CAT Company, wanted to visit Amman (Jordan) to attend a business meeting with two of his colleagues doctor Fakhr Toukan and Engineer Marwan Khartabil. Their flight with the National Air Lines Company M.E.A was scheduled on the 15th of March, but the trip was canceled on that day due to severe bad weather conditions. Mr. Boustany who was a very determinant man, insisted on going on that very same day and called for his private pilot and his private propeller bi-engine plane they all mounted on board and the plane took off in that stormy weather To words Amman. It fell down into the sea after less than fifteen minutes. There are also the risks of war and Air fighting battles where tragic losses in men and Aircraft are inflicted.

The Air force commander decided and the Army command approved his decision, to celebrate the Annual day of the Air force on the 20th of June 1957. as in 1955, all preparations were made and appropriate measures were taken. The pilots had become more experienced and three new Aircraft Squadrons "Vampire, Hawker Hunter and Fouga magister" were added to the Air force. Results came splendid as usual. The president was there as well as the prime minister, the ministers, members of the parliament, officers, officials, military attaches, directors, and the public.

On 22 August 1957. The Iraqi military Attaches colonel Saleh El Sahraii to the Army Head quarters and informed the Army commander that the donated Aircraft become readily equipped for take-off to words Lebanon On 9 September 1957. Left to Baghdad with his officer's pilots. He was received there by General Kazem Abadi and other Iraqi Senior officers, in the presence of the Lebanese Ambassador Mr Kazem El Salh and members of the Lebanese community in Baghdad. On 10 September 1957. A meeting was held with General Daghistani the Deputy in chief of the Iraqi Army and General Chaker the chief of staff who delivered to the Lebanese Air force commander colonel Boustany the Royal donation decree them made an inspection tour with them to examine the Aircraft. On 14 September 1957, Reception of the Aircraft was concluded. The first batch with Lebanese pilots took-off to words Lebanon on that same day, the next batch follower a day after. On 16 September 1957, the air force commander presented him self to the army commander and reported completion of the mission. On 18 September 1957, the Army commander went to visit the Air base in Khalde to view the Aircraft.

On 18 September 1957, Colonel "Cesari" the last French Commander of Rayak Air force during the French mandate passed away. That French officer had had great merit over the Lebanese Air force through what he offered of beneficial and valuable technical and practical Advices. He instructed his wife while he was about to pass away to hand over to the Lebanese Air force his "Helice" prop-Engine Aircraft with which he fought his Air battles throughout world war one from 1914 - 1918. He had kept this Helicopter as a souvenir and a token. The donated "Helices" was mounted aside the French Martyrs Memorial in Rayak Air base and as a sign of gratitude, the Air force Commander with a group of his officers went to attend Late colonel Cesari's funeral and presented their condolences to his wife an family.

On 12 October 1957 the first group of Gliders students pilots were colonel "Roselet" Samir Boustani; son of cal Boustany, Miss Nawfal, the sister of officer pilot Michael Nawfal; the Air force commander handed over the certificates and Badges to the gliders pilots. It is to be noted here that the sail Aviation has also its own risks.

It seems that the recommendations of Colonel "Blackmor" the chief of the British detachment to Rayak Air base, to his superiors in the middle east gave its fruits, for the Royal Air force commander in the area came to pay an inspection visit to Rayak Air base after which, he invited the Air force commander and his family and his officers to spend the Christmas and New Year Holidays in RAF Akrotiri Air base in Cyprus. The Lebanese delegation was received with over whelming welcome and they were invited to parties and tours all over the island. The Lebanese Ambassador to Cyprus and his wife were also there. Collaboration ties between the groups grew further and joined training and shooting exercises followed and colonel "Tacon" Nicosia Air base commander visited Rayak air base "Doc. no 290-293". When the armed Rebellion started in 1958, the pilots who were following jet training in the U.K. and knew about their colleagues hard work and efforts in conducting continuous night and day flight missions against the rebels, contacted the Air force commander and pended for his to permit their return to Lebanon to store in doing their duty to words their country. The Air force commander took notice of their patriotism and dedication to words their country and published on 6 June 1958 a memorandum of appreciation and gratitude to them. At the same time the Army Commander addressed a letter of commendation and gratitude to the Italian and British Instructors and technicians for their continued support and efforts to the Lebanese Air force. On 19 November 1958 the Army commander issued a resolution to commend the outstanding accomplishments of colonel Boustany.

After ten years of military service as Air force commander, (from 1 June 1949 - 1 June 1959), and immediately after being promoted to a Brigadier General, general Boustany was transferred to the Northern district command. Before assuming responsibility in his new position, he was assigned in a mission to London and Paris to settle pending and outstanding matters with the British and French authorities and manufactures of Aircraft parts. While in France, he was invited to the annual aviation Day in Salon where a number of pilots will graduate, between those were two Lebanese pilots attending advanced flight courses in the French school who are LT Amin Nasser El Din and LT Engineer Alfred Hajjar. The ceremony took place on 10 July 1959.

In January 1959, the Air force received a Squadron of "Hawker Hunter" jet fighters and four French "Alouette II" Helicopters. After the Air force started to grow in personnel and equipment, their had to be a need to develop its establishments and facilities to cape with its set objectives. So after establishing the Aviation school in 1960in Rayak Air base to qualify pilots and the Technical school to qualify Technicians, five advanced training Aircraft type "Fouga Magister" was procured from France. In the same year, new facilities were added to Beirut Air base to accommodate the Alouette II and Alouette III Helicopter squadrons, which were basically stationed in Rayak. These were named the third squadrons" then the Lebanese Army Received Kleiat Airport and started immediately re-mewing and expending its facilities and size. Kleiat Air port is located at the Northern coast of Lebanon, sins kilometers far from the Lebanese - Syrian Boarders. It was first owned by the "IPC" petroleum company and used by small size transport Aero planes between Lebanon and the Arab countries.

Kleiat airport was transferred into a military airbase and was considered at that time one of the most advanced air bases in the region. A new contract was concluded between Lebanon and France for the purchase from France of Mirage aircraft and training of Lebanese pilots and personnel. At the beginning of 1968, the Lebanese team ended its courses in France and was stationed with other personnel from the mother air base in Kleiat air base pending arrival of the "Mirage". The first two Mirage aircraft landed in Kleiat air base in April of the same year, flown by two Lebanese pilots. The other aircraft followed in non-stop air flights from France to Kleiat and delivery was completed in June 1969.The "Mirage" performed outstanding air activities and executed numerous missions. Their rate of flight readiness was very high due to the elevated capacities of its pilots and technical team.

In year 1970, a delegation from the French manufacturing company of Mirage aircraft. "Dassault" arrived in Kleiat air base to find out about the aircraft and were bewildered by their technical condition. Other delegation followed and were all impressed as well. In between 1980 & 1981, the two eighth and ninth squadrons comprising French "Gazelle" and "Puma" helicopters were established in Beirut air base. In year 1989, late president of the republic René Mouawad was elected in kleiat air base. After his tragic death, the air base was renamed to "Martyr president René Mouawad" pursuant to a cabinet resolution. It was considered fit for civil aviation and many domestic flights between Beirut and Kleiat were executed from and to this airport due to the local disturbances at that time and went on until 1991.



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