Two Israeli Air Force officers were killed on Monday night when their helicopter crashed during a training flight near Gadera.
After notifying their families, the IDF released the names of the pilot and navigator: Lieut.-Col. (res.) Noam Ron, 49, from Oranit and Major (res.) Erez Flekser, 31, from Haifa.
IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai said that when informed of the accident last night “the heart and thoughts immediately went to the families who were about to receive the terrible news.
“Besides the inquiry regarding the circumstances and the process of initial investigation, I am feeling a great sadness over the premature death of our two veteran and experienced airman,” he said.
Air Force ground control lost contact with the Cobra attack helicopter after 1 a.m., as it flew near Kibbutz Revadim on its way to the Palmahim airbase. A ground and air search launched after radio contact ceased located the wreckage shortly after 5 a.m.
Israel Air Force chief Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel grounded all Cobra helicopters pending the result of an investigation into the cause of the crash.
Investigators said the pilots did not report any malfunction, nor was there immediate evidence of any problem in either the main rotor or the tail rotor.
Noam Ron leaves behind his wife Ella and their three daughters, aged 16, 17 and 20.
Erez Flekser is survived by a wife, Meirav and a four-month old baby — Uri. The two married two years ago, and lived in Herzliya.