Two IAF Pilots Killed in Helicopter Crash in Southern Israel

The Cobra helicopter was on a routine training flight; the cause of the crash is still unknown.

An Israeli military helicopter crashed early Tuesday morning near Kibbutz Revadim in the south, killing the two pilots aboard.

Lt. Col. Noam Ron, 49, from Oranit and Maj. Erez Flexer, 31, from Haifa, were reservists on a routine training flight.

At around 1 A.M., the Palmahim air base lost radio contact with the Cobra helicopter that was on its way back to the base.

“The two crew members were experienced, veteran reservists who had been training for years to stay prepared for combat,” a senior air force officer told Haaretz Tuesday morning.

The officer stressed that the “flight mission was routine. The helicopter was on its way to the base in Palmahim.”

After radio contact with the helicopter had been lost, security and rescue services began searching for the craft, and eventually found it crashed on the ground. The reason for the crash is still unknown.

As far as was known, the helicopter’s crew did not report any malfunctions before the crash. Israel Air Force commander Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel has appointed a team to investigate the incident.

“The remains of the helicopter were discovered and no survivors were found,” the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement.

This is the second such incident to claim the lives of members of the IAF’s Cobra squadron in the past few years. In September 2008, two pilots were killed when their Cobra helicopter crashed in the Jezreel Valley during a routine training exercise. Shortly after takeoff, the back rotor of one of the squadron’s helicopters broke, causing it to crash. Two crew members, Shai Danor and Yuval Holtzman, died on the spot.

Ron is survived by a wife and three children. His funeral will be held Wednesday at 4 P.M. at the Morasha cemetery.

“He was a very gifted person, a very talented pilot,” his brother Ronny said Tuesday. “There were years when he did more than 120 days of reserve duty and contributed a great deal to the country’s security.”

Sixteen years ago, Ron’s brother Eyal, who was also a pilot, died on a trip in the Judean Desert.

Flexer leaves behind a wife and a four-month-old son. His funeral will be held Wednesday at 11 A.M. at the Herzliya military cemetery.

As a child, Flexer and his three siblings were raised by their mother after their father died at an early age. Flexer had been planning before his death to begin doctoral studies in physics, according to relatives.

Flexer’s aunt Aviva described him as wise, brilliant, ethical, down-to-earth and Israeli.

Dozens of friends and relatives visited the pilots’ homes to comfort their families.

Oren Rozen / Wikicommons