IDF chief: Pilots crash landed chopper in way that allowed naval officer to survive

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi lauds the pilots who were killed when their helicopter went down off the coast of northern Israel on Monday night, as well as a naval officer, Cpt. Ron Berman, who survived the crash.

“He did all that he could to save his friends, the pilots, unfortunately it didn’t succeed. And they did all that they could to land the helicopter in the best way possible, and that seems to be what allowed Ron to stay alive,” Kohavi says, as he leaves the hospital where Berman is recuperating.

On Monday night, the left motor of the Eurocopter AS565 Panther helicopter in which the three were traveling malfunctioned, according to an initial investigation. Pilots Lt. Col. Erez Sachyani and Maj. Chen Fogel attempted to make an emergency landing on the water.

Berman managed to jump out of the helicopter and made several attempts to pull Sachyani and Fogel from the aircraft, but was unable to. Using his personal cellphone, Berman called the commander of their squadron and reported the crash, which the pilots had not called in due to a power failure onboard following the motor malfunction. Berman was pulled from the sea shortly after the crash by a maritime police patrol boat.

“He is an extraordinary person, and we are blessed to have officers like him,” Kohavi says.

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