On top of the Mountain On top of the Mountain On top of the Mountain On top of the Mountain On top of the Mountain Israel’s Air Force Commander, Maj. Gen. Ido Nehushtan, visited the helicopter crash zone, heading a special delegation to Romania. Romanian and Israeli serviceman who participated at the exercise prior to the crash, briefed the General on the accident. Later, Ido Nehushtan attended a memorial service together with the President, Mr. Shimon Peres

General Stanchio, Romanian Air force Commander, entered the spacious room and sat in the far chair, at the air force base near Bucharest. Two flags are placed on the table: Israeli and Romanian. The General is accompanied by General Galushka, commander of the Romanian Helicopter squadron, and chief of training.

The Israeli Air Force Commander arrived with Brig. Gen. Shlomo Mashiah, head of the team in charge of investigating the cause of the crash. The two were joined by Lieut. Col. Y, commander of the “Night Owls” squadron. Six of his men were killed at the helicopter crash. Everyone at this meeting worked together since the crash – coordinating and managing the search and rescue efforts, making tough decisions, and assembling the investigation team.

A few minutes later, a young pregnant lady walks in, accompanied by a Romanian officer. This is the widow of Captian Claudio Stephan Dragna. The two chief officers approach and embrace her. General Stanchio translated the consolatory words of Maj. Gen. Nehushtan. Tomorrow, the President will say in his address to the Israeli delegation, that it does not take a shared enemy, but a shared danger, to foster proper relations between two countries.

Two Romanian “Puma” helicopters take off to the crash site. The Israeli delegation and Romanian commanders visit the crash site. Earlier, one of the “Puma” pilots briefed on the flight route, and what to look at when they arrive to the crash site. The pilot explained the need to land at a point a bit below the crash site itself.

We take off the air force base, and the flat terrain is quickly replaced by steep mountains. Y. Identifies the location “we were supposed to pass here, this was the flight route. The crash site is right behind this cliff”. The helicopter lands and Lieut. Col. Y goes to speak with a farmer who lives nearby. He thanks him for his hospitality today, and on the day of the crash, when the crews were looking for the crash site. The farmer recalls how he first thought the loud noise was a thunder.

The second helicopter lands, with the air force commanders. Lieut. Col. Y recreates the chain of event of that day, from the moment communication was lost with the helicopter, the decision to land at this nearby location, realizing that there were no survivors and the arrival to the crash site.

The Israeli Air Force Commander listens to the brief, asks in depth questions, and tries to see as much as he can with his own eyes. The need to understand what exactly happened is mixed with the sad feeling of standing at a place where six good friends lost their lives. On the way back to the helicopter, Maj. Gen. Nehushtan speaks with Lieut. Gen. Y. The visit is followed by a memorial service, attended by the President.

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