Country Profile

The Country


Israel was located in the Middle East, at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea. It’s neighbours are Lebanon to the north, Syria to the north-east, Jordan to the east, Egypt to the south, and the Mediterranean Sea to the west.

Israel is a long narrow country, being less than 50 miles wide at it’s mid-point. The eastern boundary is defined by a deep trough, an extension of the East African Rift Valley, which contains the River Jordan, the Sea of Galilee (Lake Tiberias) and the Dead Sea – the latter being the lowest point on the Earth’s surface at 395 m (1,296 ft) below the level of the Mediterranean. The western coastline borders a narrow coastal plain, where a large portion of the population resides. In the north, the Galilee highlands rise to Israel’s highest mountain (Mt Meron) at 1,208 m (3,963 ft). In the south, the triangular-shaped Negev region is a desert region extending to the Gulf of Aqaba, which links to the Red Sea.

Since 1949 irrigation schemes have added over 153,000 hectares (378,000 acres) to the agricultural land available. Forests have increased tenfold since 1948. The area of Israel is 20,700 sq km (7,992 sq m). The population of the territory has grown rapidly since 1948, with substantial immigration including more than 2.2 million Jews and over 300,000 non-Jews. The total population numbered 5.9 million in 2000. In that year the ethnic groups comprised Jews 82% and Others 18% (mostly Arabs). Religious faith comprised 82% Jewish, 14% Moslem, 2% Christian and 2% other. The capital city is Jerusalem.

Note: Aviation in the territory now under the administration of the Palestinian National Authority/State of Palestine, comprising the West Bank and Gaza Strip, is described separately.

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National History

Summary Narrative History

Timeline – Key Dates in Israeli History

Further National Information

BBC News Profile: Israel
Yahoo Israel page
wikipedia: Israel page
wikipedia: History of Israel


Text to be added on the development of aviation in Israel.


Civil Aircraft Registrations

From 1930, civil aircraft operated in Palestine under the British Mandate used the registration sequence VQ-PAA onwards. The Israeli civil aircraft registration prefix 4X-xxx has been used since independence in 1948.

All-time Palestine – civil aircraft register (VQ-Paa SU-Yaa E4-aaa).
All-time Israel – civil aircraft register (4X-aaa) [TO BE ADDED].
[Get involved with the Aeroflight Cloud.]

Aircraft Operators

Military Air Arms

Air Force (Israel Air and Space Force – IASF)
Naval Aviation – All military aircraft are operatd by the Air Force

Central Government Agencies

Government Aviation – VIP/Government transport is provided by the Air Force or El AL

Public Service Aviation

Medical Aviation (Magen David Adom)
Police Aviation (Israeli Police Aviation Unit)

Commercial Aviation

Arkia – Israel Airlines

wikipedia: Airlines of Israel
The World’s Airlines: Israel

Private Aviation

To be added


Aircraft Manufacturers

Israel Aircraft Industries/IAI

Aircraft Maintenance/Repair Depots

None known.


Civil Airports & Airfields

Ben Gurion International Airport, Tel Aviv
Eilat Airport
Ovda Airport
Sde Dov, Tel Aviv
Airports in Israel

Military Air Bases & Airfields

Military Air Bases Listing – to be added

On Show

Aviation Museums

Israeli Air Force Museum, Hatzerim

Other preserved aircraft-
Beit Hashomer Museum, Kfar Giladi
Defenders Park, Kibbutz Nahshon
Eilat Airport Display, Eilat
Golda Meir Cultural Center, Kibbutz Revivim
National Museum of Science, Technology and Space, Haifa
Technoda Center for Science and Technology Education, Givat Olga

Holtz Technical High School, Tel Aviv
IAF Technical School, Haifa

Airshow Dates

Key Airshow Dates

More Information

Aviation-Related Magazines

Magazines Guide for Israel

Aviation Bibliography

Israeli Aviation Bibliography – to be added

Web Links

Israel Aircraft Industries
(Official webpage of the Israeli aerospace company)

Aviation Safety Network
(Israeli aircraft accidents and incidents)

AOPA Israel
(Israeli branch of light aviation organisation)

Israel National History

A Jewish Kingdom was first established circa 1020 BC, but in 930 BC the kingdom was split into a Northern Kingdom, known as Israel, and a Southern Kingdom, know as Judah or Judea. The divided kingdom was more vulnerable to invaders and in 722 BC Israel was crushed by the Assyrians. The region was conquered by various armies until 168 BC, when an independent Jewish kingdom was revived. In 63 BC the Roman Army captured Jerusalem and occupied the area. Revolts against Roman rule in 66 AD and 132 AD were brutally crushed, with Jews banned from entering Jerusalem and many sold into slavery. To underline their authority the Romans renamed the area Palestine. The Jewish population dispersed throughout the Roman Empire, and into Middle Eastern countries outside the Empire.

Initially regarded as free people, as the Roman Empire became more Christian the diaspora of exiled Jews became increasingly marginalised. Harsh anti-Jewish rulings continued to be issued by the Christian Church, even after the fall of the Roman Empire in the west. In the meantime, Moslem Arabs had taken control of Palestine and in 691 AD built the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem on the site of a Jewish Temple. In 800 the Emperor Charlemagne allowed Jews to settle in the Germany – later to become known as Ashkenazi Jews. These people eventually became widespread in northern Europe, but a series of expulsions from 1290 onwards saw many migrate eastwards to Poland, Lithuania and Russia.

In 1517 the Ottoman Empire took control of Palestine and showed a largely tolerant attitude to minority populations. Anti-Jewish pogroms in Russia during 1881-1882 forced large numbers of Jews to leave Russia, and many chose to move to Palestine – some 30,000 in the subsequent twenty years. At the same time, the Zionist movement – aimed at establishing a Jewish homeland in Palestine – became increasingly active.

The First World War resulted in a major change. In late 1917 British forces moved into Palestine and defeated the Ottoman Army. In April 1920 the area was mandated to British control – a move subsequently confirmed by the League of Nations. At that time, the Arab population outnumbered the Jewish population by nearly 4 to 1. By 1937, Zionist organised Jewish immigration had reduced this ratio to 2.5 to 1. In the same year the British government proposed a partition of Palestine, but violent Arab protests forced abandonment of this plan. In 1939 increasing Arab opposition forced the British authorities to limit further Jewish immigration.

Following World War 2, survivors of Nazi persecution flocked to Palestine, but Britain felt unable to allow unrestricted Jewish immigration. Jewish terrorists attempted to force the issue. In April 1947 Britain referred the issue to the United Nations (UN). On 29 November 1947, the UN accepted a plan to partition the country into a Jewish state of Israel and an Arab Palestine.

Israel declared independence on 14 May 1948, and was immediately attacked by Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan and Egypt. The makeshift Israeli Defence Forces successfully opposed the attacks, and in 1949 staged an offensive which concluded with the capture of large areas of Arab-held territory. The War of Independence was ended by a UN mediated armistice, which established Israel’s de facto borders. What remained of Arab Palestine became parts of Jordan and Egypt, not a separate state.

In November 1956, Israel launched a pre-emptive strike on Egypt, in co-operation with Anglo-French forces attempting to seize the Suez Canal. American pressure subsequently forced Israel to withdraw from all captured territory in the Sinai. In 1967, the closing off of the Gulf of Aqaba by Egypt provoked a crisis which led to the Six Day War. Catching Egyptian, Jordanian and Syrian forces by surprise, the Israelis managed to capture large areas of territory, including the former Palestinian areas west of the river Jordan, the Golan Heights in the north, and the Gaza Strip and Sinai in the south. The resulting flood of Arab refugees into neighbouring countries led to the adoption of publicity-seeking terrorist tactics by militant Palestinian groups campaigning for an independent Arab Palestine. The largest militant group being the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO).

Between 1968 and 1970, Israel was forced to fight a War Of Attrition against Egyptian forces mounting repeated air and ground raids on Israeli territory. The Yom Kippur war of October 1973 caught Israel by surprise. A simultaneous attack by Egyptian and Syrian forces was only stopped once full mobilisation had been achieved, at great cost in Israeli lives. A ceasefire was agreed following a successful Israeli counter-attack. In March 1979 a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel was negotiated at Camp David in the United States. The provisions included the return of the Sinai peninsula to Egypt.

In June 1982 Israel invaded Lebanon, hoping to expel Palestinian terrorists and establish a friendly Maronite Christian government there. The PLO was forced to withdraw from the country, but the Israeli forces overstayed their welcome, and were compelled to begin a phased withdraw in 1983, eventually moving to a Security Buffer Zone just inside the Lebanese border. This period saw the establishment of a militant Islamic group in Lebanon called Hezbollah, which aimed at forcibly removing Israel from Lebanese territory. Initially a fairly feeble guerrilla force, Hezbollah benefited greatly from extensive funding and military training supplied by Iran and Syria.

In October 1986 it was revealed in the British media that Israel had been in possession of nuclear weapons since the late 1960s. The Israeli government refused to confirm or deny the reports, but insisted that any such weapons would only be used for self-defence.

A Palestinian intifada (uprising) in the occupied territories began in December 1987, and led to a more realistic political approach by the PLO. Terrorism was renounced, the existence of Israel accepted and dialog with the USA and Israel cautiously initiated. The fall of the Soviet Union in 1989 resulted in a new wave of immigration by Soviet Jews. A more obvious conseqence was the ‘peace process’, which improved relations with neighbouring countries and reduced tensions in the Middle East. A peace treaty with Jordan was later signed in October 1994.

During the Gulf War of 1991, Israel experienced attacks by Iraqi Scud missiles but refrained from retaliating, and so risking splitting the Allied Coalition, thanks to pressure from the United States. In 1993 the ‘peace process’ resulted in an agreement with the Palestinians on self-governing status for the Gaza Strip and West Bank. In 1994 the Palestinian Authority was created to run the ‘occupied territories’. Following the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin by Jewish extremists in November 1995, a right wing government, strongly supported by the new immigrants, was elected and began to renege on the commitments made to the Palestinians during the ‘peace process’.

By the mid-1990s Hezbollah had begun launching rockets into northern Israel, as well as continously harrassing the Lebanese Security Buffer zone. In April 1996 Operation Grapes of Wrath was launched – a 16 day air and artillery blitz on Hezbollah positions in Lebanon. In September 1999 the ‘Wye 2’ agreement was signed, between a new moderate Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority, allowing the peace process to move forward again.

In the Summer of 2000, peace talks in the USA aimed at resolving issues purposely omitted from ‘Wye 2’ collapsed in mutual recriminations. Frustrated by nearly ten years of ‘peace talks’ with hardly anything to show for it, in September 2000 the Palestinians resumed their intifada protest. Unlike the earlier intifada, which was relatively low-key but continuous, the new action rapidly escalated into a series of gun-battles between Palestinians and the Israeli Army. By early 2001, nearly 300 people had died in the conflict – all but one-sixth of them being Palestinians.

By now it was clear that the weak, incompetent and corrupt Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority was unable to police it’s own territory effectively. Created at the start of the first intifada, a new militant group called Hamas (an acronym for Islamic Resistance Movement) had become increasingly active in organising suicide bombings and armed attacks on Israeli civilian and military targets. The Israeli Army resorted to assassinating key Palestinian personnel in retaliation.

In elections in February 2001, hard-line ex-Army General Ariel Sharon was overwhelmingly elected Prime Minister on a promise to restore Israeli security. In April 2002 Israeli Defence Forces conducted an offensive incursion into the West Bank to hunt down terrorists. This was to be the first of many more similar incursions. A more lasting defensive measure was the construction in 2003 of the first sections of a fence or ‘security barrier’ to separate Israel from Palestinian territory. This highly controversial structure was intended to improve the security of Israeli settlements vulnerable to attacks from nearby Palestinian land, but instead seems to have merely forced a change of tactics by the militants – the firing of rockets and mortars over the fence.

In another move to improve security, a policy known as ‘unilateral disengagement’ was promoted. Between August and September 2005 the Israelis withdrew from Jewish settlements in Gaza and abandoned them to the Palestinians. This concession to long standing Palestinian demands might have led to further reciprocal security improvements, but the Palestinians threw the chance away. In October 2005 the virulently anti-Zionist President of Iran called for Israel to be ‘wiped out from the map’. The fact that Iran is widely suspected of developing nuclear weapons meant that the threat could not be taken as an idle one.

In January 2006 Hamas won a surprise victory in the Palestinian parliamentary elections. The ruling Fatah party had been widely discredited by the poor performance of the Palestinian Authority since its creation, and suffered accordingly. The Israeli Government refused to recognise a government lead by terrorists and halted payment of all funds to the Authority. European and US funding also ceased. The Palestinian territories descended into lawless anarchy as rival Hamas and Fatah factions staged bloody gun battles for control of the territory.

On 25 June 2006 an Israeli soldier was kidnapped and held hostage somewhere in the Gaza Strip. Three days later the Israeli Army initiated a series of incursions to try to rescue the soldier, and prevent any further firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel. The Army located several tunnels used for smuggling arms, but where unable to locate the hostage. IDF operations continued until November 2006.

On 12 July 2006, Hezbollah staged a pre-planned ambush to kidnap two Israeli soldiers on the Lebanese border. In what became known as the Second Lebanon War, the Israeli Air Force staged numerous retaliatory air strikes on Hezbollah positions in Lebanon. In response Hezbollah launched nearly 4000 rockets into northern Israel. The Air Force also attacked Lebanese civilian infra-structure targets in order to put pressure on the Lebanese Government to disarm Hezbollah. A ground offensive towards the Litani River was also ordered, to clear the area of Hezbollah fighters, but had only been going a couple of days when a ceasefire came into effect.

The poor performance of the IDF in the Lebanon war aroused widespread concern within Israel, and a number of senior IDF officials later resigned. Although a UN force now monitors the Lebanese border with Israel, Hezbollah emerged from the war immensely strengthened politically. In March 2007 the Palestinians finally agreed a unity government drawn from both Fatah and Hamas, but the response from it’s international financiers was distinctly lukewarm. Its first major task will be to restore law and order to the Palestinian territories.

Israel Key Dates

c 23000 BC    Stone Age peoples inhabit the area around the Sea of Galilee.
c 7000 BC    First towns and villages established by Canaanite migrants from the north.
c 3100 BC    Canaanite civilisation develops – collection of city states under Egyptian rule, including Jerusalem.
c 1100 BC    Former Egyptian slaves (Hebrews) conquer Canaanites and settle in the area.
c 1180 BC    Philistine invaders from Crete settle on the coastal plain of Palestine.
c 1020 BC    Hebrews conquer the Philistines and establish first Jewish Kingdom.
960 BC    Temple of Jerusalem first built.
930 BC    Kingdom split into Israel (Northern Kingdom) and Judah (or Judea).
722 BC    Israel crushed by Assyrian invasion.
606 BC    Jews exiled from Israel to Babylon (Iraq) – start of diaspora.
536 BC    Media-Persia Empire under Cyrus overthrows Babylonian Empire.
332 BC    Alexander the Great defeats Darius and conquers the region.
168 BC    Independent Jewish kingdom revived (Hasmonean Period).
63 BC    Jerusalem captured by the Roman Army – region becomes part of Roman Empire.
66 AD    Jewish revolt against the Romans.
73 AD    Last stand of the Jews at Masada.
132 AD    Uprising against Roman rule.
135 AD    Roman Army crushes Jewish revolt. Judea renamed Palestine. Many Jews forced into exile in other parts of the Empire.
313 AD    Area falls under the control of the Byzantine Empire.
614    Persian invasion, but recaptured by Byzantines in 629.
636    Arab invaders under Caliph Omar take control of the area, but Jewish minority remains.
691    Dome of the Rock built on site of Temple of Jerusalem.
800    Emperor Charlemagne allows Jews to settle in Germany – later known as Ashkenazi Jews.
1071    Seljuk Turks take control of Jerusalem.
1099    Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem established by Crusaders.
1291    Mamluk (Mameluke) Sultanate of Egypt defeats the last Crusader state.
1517    Mamluk Sultanate conquered by Ottoman Empire.
1785    Palestinian population reaches a low point of 350,000.
1882    First large scale immigration starts – mostly from Russia, (First Aliyah).
29 Aug 1897    First Zionist Congress held (in Switzerland) – sets up group to work for establishment of Jewish homeland.
1909    Tel Aviv founded – first modern all-Jewish city.
9 Dec 1917    British forces capture Jerusalem from Ottoman Army. Occupation of Palestine completed in 1918.
2 Nov 1919    Balfour Declaration – promising support in establishing a Jewish national home in Palestine.
April 1920    Conference of San Remo – began creation of mandate for British rule of Palestine.
1920    Haganah (Jewish defence organisation) set up.
1922    Transjordan detached from Palestine mandate territory
1923    Jewish Agency established to represent Jewish community. Officially recognised in 1929.
1932-35    Major Jewish and Arab immigration to Palestine (0.5 million).
1936-38    Arab revolt against British rule and Jewish immigration.
1937    British government proposes partition of Palestine. Opposed by Arabs.
1939    Limit on Jewish immigration imposed by British government to quell Arab unrest.
1939-45    Jewish personnnel serve in British and US armed forces during WW2.
15 May 1941    Palmach established by British military and Haganah to help defend Palestine. Later ordered to disband but went underground.
1945-47    Terrorist attacks on British security forces by Jewish extremist groups.
22 July 1946    Bomb attack on British security forces base in King David Hotel by Jewish terrorists.
April 1947    Britain refers Jewish immigration issue to the UN.
29 Nov 1947    United Nations approves plan for dividing Palestine into Arab and Jewish states.
14 May 1948    State of Israel established – Tel Aviv becomes capital city.
15 May 1948    Neighbouring Arab countries invade Israel – War of Independence starts.
July 1949    UN negotiated armistice begins. De facto borders established, giving Israel much more land than original UN plan.
1948-52    Mass immigration from Europe and Arab countries.
11 May 1949    Israel joins United Nations
23 Jan 1950    Jerusalem officially becomes capital of Israel.
29 October 1956    Start of Sinai Campaign alongside British & French assault on Suez Canal Zone.
6 Nov 1956    UN mediated ceasefire starts. USA forces Israeli withdrawal from all captured territory.
June 1964    Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) established with Egyptian support.
16 May 1967    UN truce monitoring force ordered out of Sinai by Egypt.
5 June 1967    Six Day War against Egypt, Syria and Jordan. Israel annexes Gaza Strip, Sinai Peninsula, Golan Heights and the West Bank of the Jordan river
1968-1970    War of Attrition pursued by Egypt.
6 Oct 1973    Yom Kippur War – surprise attack by Egypt and Syria on Yom Kippur day.
14 March 1978    Operation Litani – attack on PLO positions in southern Lebanon.
17 Sept 1978    Camp David Accords on Middle East peace
26 March 1979    Peace treaty with Egypt signed in Washington DC.
7 June 1981    Israeli Air Force destroys Iraq’s nuclear reactor near Baghdad.
25 April 1982    Israel completes withdrawal from Sinai – returned to Egyptian control.
6 June 1982    Israel invades Lebanon – Operation Peace for Galilee. PLO forced to leave Lebanon.
June 1985    Phased Israeli army withdrawal from Lebanon completed.
5 Oct 1986    Media reports appear that Israel has had a nuclear weapons programme since the 1960s.
9 Dec 1987    Intifada (uprising) starts in Palestinian territories against Israeli rule. (Lasts until 1991). Hamas militant group established.
Nov 1988    PLO recognises existence of Israel.
1989    Start of mass immigration of Jews from former Soviet Union. Many new settlements built to house newcomers – including in West Bank and Gaza.
Jan 1991    First Gulf War – Israel attacked by Iraqi Scud missiles.
May 1991    Operation Solomon – airlift of Jews from Ethiopia.
13 Sept 1993    Oslo Accords endorse Palestinian automony.
13 May 1994    Palestinian self-government starts in Gaza Strip and Jericho. Fatah party takes all key positions.
Sept 1995    Palestinian autonomy extended to most of West Bank.
1996    Fundamentalist Arab terrorist attacks on Israel escalate.
11 Apr 1996    Operation Grapes of Wrath – retaliation for Hizbollah attacks on northern Israel.
23 Oct 1998    Wye River Memorandum between Israel and PLO.
May 2000    Israel withdraws from security zone in Southern Lebanon.
Sept 2000    Second Intifada begins.
April 2002    Operation Defensive Shield – anti-terrorist incursion by IDF units into the West Bank.
2003    Start of construction of ‘Security Barrier’ physically separating Israeli and Palestinian territory
Sept 2005    Completion of unilateral disengagement from Gaza Strip – Israeli settlements abandoned.
27 Oct 2005    Iranian president calls for Israel to be ‘wiped out from the map’.
28 June 2006    Military operations against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.
12 July 2006    Second Lebanon War starts after two Israeli soldiers kidnapped by Hezbollah.
14 Aug 2006    Second Lebanon War ends with UN arranged ceasefire.
17 March 2007    Joint Fatah-Hamas Palestinian unity government formed.

Israeli Incursion into Lebanon

During its brief history as a nation, Israel had fought many of the most savage battles in history. In all, although some at great cost, they had defeated its enemies. One of those brutal battles occurred in the summer of 1982. During most of the 1980s, the state of Lebanon was marred in a bloody civil war. Aside the parties involved in that civil war, Lebanon was the host of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), a group dedicated to the creation of a Palestinian state on what is now Israel. To accomplish that lofty goal, the PLO employed terroristic tactics. During most of the early months of 1982, PLO guerillas attacked Israeli settlements inside Israel northern border. As the attacks mounted, they were heavy pressured inside the Israeli political and military establishment to respond in force to the attacks.

As the political leaders debated inside Israel, Syria decided to move its forces inside the Lebanon in order to achieve power via a proxy government. The Syrian incursion in Lebanon activated the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) which responded in kind to the attack. By June, the IDF Air Force component fought some of the most brutal air battles in the annals of military history. On June 4th 1982, a group of IDF’s F-4 Phantoms and A-4 Skyhawks streaked over Beirut and proceeded to bomb suspected PLO camps inside Lebanon’s capital. The attack lasted almost 90 minutes without much anti-aircraft fire. But the next attack envelop, which was assigned to attack PLO targets near Beirut’s coastline, did encountered heavy anti aircraft fire. During the attack an IDF’s A-4 Phantom, piloted by Aharon Ahiaz, and was downed by a Soviet-built SA7 shoulder fire missile.

IAI Kfirs of 101 Squadron. (photo, via author)

Meanwhile, the Syrian air force showed up in force on the afternoon of June 7th with a squadron of Mig-21 Fishbeds. The IDF, flying the advance F-16 Falcons, did not have any trouble downing two of the Syrian Migs. At the same time, the IDF ground forces element began to airlift heavy equipment into the mountains southeast of the Lebanese capital. The incursion of this heavy Israeli troop element directly threatened the Syrian position in the all important Bekaa Valley. The Syrians wasted no time in attacking, with Gazelles helicopters gunships, attacking the newly established Israeli position to no avail. The surprising Syrian air response and sub sequential attack put the Israeli war plan in a state of flux. Israeli military leaders now realized that in order to wipeout most of the PLO camps, they needed to neutralize the Syrian threat. By Jun 4th, Syria had placed 19 surface-to-air missile (SAM) batteries along the Valley.

On the morning of June 9th, the IDF launched a massive air strike aimed at those SAMs sites. With an air envelope of 90 aircraft, including A-4 and F-4 armed with the advance AGM65 Maverick and Anti-Radiation missiles the IDF destroyed completely fifteen sites and seriously damaged two more. As the same time the Phantoms and Skyhawks were striking the SAM sites, IDF’s F-16 and F-15 Eagles were destroying the bulk of the Syrian air force. In just 60 minutes, F-15s and 16s destroyed 22 Migs 21s and 23s, and severely damaged seven more. Israeli air dominance over Syria was now completed.

A pair of IDF/AF F-15 Eagles. (photo, via author)

When the battle ended, the IDF claimed forty downed Mig 21s and 23s. More impressive is the fact that only 37 F-15 downed such a high number of enemy aircraft. Meanwhile, 72 IDF’s F-16 Falcons downed forty four Syrian Migs. The overall size of the Israeli Air Force rout of its Syrian counter part put an end to any Arab state intention of militarily destroying the Jewish state for the foreseeable future.

– Raul Colon

More information:
Modern Military Aircraft in Combat, Editor Robert Jackson, Amber Books 2008
Air Power: The Men, Machines,…, Stephen Budiansky, Penguin Books 2004