TEL AVIV (Aug. 12)
Two Syrian Air Force MIG-17 interceptor jets landed unexpectedly at an airfield in northern Israel yesterday morning and their phots, two officers, were hustled away for interrogation. An Army communique later in the day said an investigation was under way but did not indicate whether the Syrians were possible defectors or whether they had been forced down or had landed by error. The pilots were Lt. Walid Adham, 25, and Second Lt. Radsan Bifaii, 22.
The Russian-built planes landed intact on a field normally used by crop-dusting aircraft then quickly became a center of attraction as thousands of curious Israelis converged on the airfield creating traffic jams on roads in northern Israel. The public has seen a MIG-21 which was landed by an Iraqi defector in 1966 and is now on display at the Army exhibition here. But today’s arrivals were the first MIG-17s to be seen in Israel.
A Syrian military spokesman in Damascus suggested today that the pilots had lost their way in bad weather and were forced to make emergency landings after running out of fuel, it was reported here.