Filmmaker and writer David Mamet was at the Jerusalem Film Festival on Friday night for a public reading of his novella The Handle and The Hold.

David Mamet

Source: Nir Shaanani

David Mamet

The story is about two Jewish American veterans who steal a former US B-17 bomber and fly it to Palestine, just months before the Israeli War of Independence in 1948 in support of the Palmach underground army.

Mamet explained that the story was partly based on the real life account of the late American-born, Israeli engineer Al Schwimmer, the first CEO of the Israel Aerospace Industries.

“Vets could buy planes for very little after the war. What the Jewish guys did is started up these phony airlines… otherwise the FBI wouldn’t let a Jew buy a plane. But the FBI would stay on their tail and if they got wind that that something was amiss, they would steal the plane back,” said Mamet.

“Al and a friend had bought a B-17 but it was impounded by the FBI and left at Tulsa airport. They were decided to get it back. He told me how they had broken into the airbase and were sitting there in the plane under the pelting rain. Neither of them had flown a B-17 before, they took off, reading the flight manual.”

Asked if he had any big screen adaptation plans for the work. “No I’ve told the story but if someone wants to adapt it they’re welcome.”