The Air Force is trying to find out what went wrong in the overnight helicopter crash that killed two veteran reservist pilots on a routine training flight between Tel Aviv and Be’er Sheva.
The names of the victims have not been released, but their families have been notified.
Hours before the crash, outgoing Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Palmachim officers he always hopes that all IDF personnel return from duty alive and well.
The Cobra helicopter was on its way back to its Palmachim base around 1 a.m. when it crashed and broke up. An area resident reported that he saw an object falling from the air. The helicopter was not carrying a large amount of fuel and therefore did not catch fire during its descent or after crashing into an area water reservoir.
After contact was lost with the aircraft, a search party located the debris and the two dead bodies approximately four hours later.
Air Force Commander Major-General Amir Eshel grounded all Cobra helicopters and ordered an investigation to determine the cause of the crash.
A yeshiva student who saw the plane falling told Yediot Acharonot, “When we saw the mess in the air and the security forces, we went to help with the search. We went into the field and after several hundred yards, we found part of the helicopter’s main rotor. It’s fortunate the helicopter did not catch fire.”