Visiting the IAF museum at the Hazerim air base these holidays just got better: three unique exhibitions of rare historical photographs. Many of them shed a new light on the early days of Aviation in Palestine under the Othman empire
Jonathan Meroz | Nikolai Avrutov
The new exhibitions are stored in a very special place: the Super-Frelon Helicopter number 010, the same one that flown Menachem Begin and the Egyptian president Anwar El-Sadat before the historical peace agreement between Egypt and Israel. The helicopter, who served at the “Night Transporters” squadron between 1966 and 1991, made its last flight to the museum when the Super-Frelon unit at the squadron closed.
Two of the new exhibitions are dedicated to the early stages of Aviation development in Palestine in the early 20th century. The first steps were made by foreign countries, long before Israel and its air force were established. The visitors can learn about the first flights over Palestine made by French and Turks, about the landing in Jerusalem of the French pilot Pierre Daucourt in 1913, and about the air bombings of the Negev desert during the WWI. The exhibition was created with the generous help of Dr. Gavish, of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, an expert in that period.
The third exhibition depicts the visit of the former president of Egypt, Anwar El Sadat, at the Hazerim air base and the southern town of Beer- Sheva in 1979. As mentioned above, the exhibition is located inside the Super-Frelon helicopter, the same one that flown the President during the visit. Brig. Gen. (in reserve) Yaakov Terner, today commander of the IAF museum, was the commander of Hazerim air base at the time. “Today, when we are at the beginning of a new era, and entering peace negotiations with the Palestinians, this exhibition of the first steps towards the peace has a particular significance”, said Terner.
The three exhibitions make use of archives that have not been widely available for public viewing. Beyond the pictures, climbing up the helicopter ramp will reward the visitor with lots of stories. One story from the early days of WWI particularly stands out: during the war, an English pilot bombed the Turk train station in the southern town of Beer-Sheva, killing 23 Jewish labourers. A month later, the pilot was captured by the Turks. In a weird coincidence, it turned out that he was an English-Jew, and a relative of the famous Rothschild family (who played a major role in the building of the State of Israel).
The opening ceremony was attended by an important guest: the Turkish air force attaché, Lieut. Col. Talib Tosol.
“An organization that wants to talk about Aviation, celebrates the aviation in Israel, even when it is not directly related to it. This is how you find common things with people you might have certain disagreements with”, said Brig. Gen. Z, commander of the Hazerim air base. “The museum is here not only in order to commemorate the past, but also in order to educate the future generations. The ones who fly above us right now, the ones who brace for the next war, our future strength. We know that if will maintain our strength, the peace will come. This exhibition is first of all a symbol of our longing for peace, and our view of our enemies, past and present”.
Lieut. Col. Tosol received a small souvenir from Brig. Gen. Terner and took part in the initiation of the new exhibition, which will be open to the public during the upcoming holidays.