Operation Solomon

On May 24th, 1991, an aeronautical world record was smashed by a solitary Boeing 747 operated by El AL Airlines, for the highest single flight passenger load.
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The El Al 747, stripped of all seating, managed to load, and fly 1,122 passengers direct to Israel (1,087 passengers officially on the manifest, including the dozens of young children that had hidden in their mothers' robes). Even more interesting, is the fact that the passenger load increased in flight due to five babies being born aboard the rescue aircraft as the operation was carried out.
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The reason behind the record setting flight, was the imminent threat of sitting Ethiopian government of Mengistu Haile Mariam being overthrown by the Eritrean and Tigrean rebels, putting the entirety of Ethiopia in a state of political destabilization.
 
The Israeli government and Israeli Defense Forces, fully aware of Ethiopia’s worsening political situation, launched a covert plan to airlift the stranded Ethiopian Jews to the safety of Israel in what became known as "Operation Solomon".
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The Ethiopian government ultimately decided to allow all the Falshas to leave the country, largely motivated by a letter sent directly from President George H. W. Bush. and in response to the efforts of multiple diplomats, acting President of Ethiopia Tesfaye Gebre-Kidan made the ultimate decision to allow the airlift to be carried out.
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Within Israel, a heated division existed as to whether or not to open their borders to the Ethiopians, but ultimately, counter arguments were in vain, as the Israeli government commenced the airlift operation in spite of their objections.
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Operation Solomon, Operation Moses and Operation Joshua came to life from May 24th, to May 25th, 1991, all thanks to the incredible concerted efforts of many individuals at multiple levels, political maneuvering, operational planning, interdepartmental, and international cooperation, to allow for the potential execution of this humanitarian mission.  Some of those seeking to flee Ethiopia, were forced to have travelled hundreds of miles by bus, car, horses, and by foot, to meet the awaiting aircraft.  
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On that day, a total of 35 Israeli Air Force C-130s and El Al Boeing 747s took part in the ad hock aeronautical armada, and managed to transport 14,325 Ethiopian Jews to the safety of Israel, within a period of only 6 hours.

 

 

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