Dramatic Turn in Search for Pilot in '62 Kinneret Crash

Findings over the past few days in Lake Kinneret strengthen the hope that the remains of an Israel Air Force flight instructor, whose plane went down in the lake 47 years ago, have been found.

On May 6, 1962, Lt. Yakir Naveh, 23, was flying a Fouga Magister plane in a training mission in the north, together with IAF cadet Oded Koton. The pair were flying in formation with two other planes. Naveh and Koton's plane was over the middle of the lake when it suddenly dipped, hit the water, took off once more, but broke up shortly thereafter.

A search of the area did not turn up the remains of either of the pilots or the plane.

A year later, graduates of the Israel Defense Forces' first divers course found Koton's body and parts of the plane.

About 10 years ago, Menachem Lev, head of the fisheries at Kibbutz Ein Gev on the eastern shore of Lake Kinneret, found the remains of a military plane. Tests revealed it to be Naveh's Fouga Magister, and it was hoped that the pilot's remains would finally be found as well. However the search, renewed by the army, the air force, the navy and civilian groups, was unsuccessful.

Lev who since finding parts of the plane has been part of the search team, declined yesterday to comment for this report.

About two weeks ago, efforts to locate Naveh's remains were renewed by the MIA department of the air force using divers.

Experts believe his body remained strapped to the pilot's seat and therefore the search, at a depth of more than 20 meters, is focusing on locating the cockpit.

Divers have located the plane's tail and another part, suggesting they might be close to finding Naveh's body.

The divers appeared imbued with a sense of mission yesterday and the hope of successful completion of the mission that would bring Naveh's remains to a final resting place.