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Two Israeli Pilots Die in Crash over Desert

August 17, 1988
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Two veteran Israel air force pilots were killed over the Judean Desert-Dead Sea area Monday, when their F-15 fighter jets collided on a routine training exercise, according to a spokesman for the Israel Defense Force.

Lt. Col. Ram Koller, 36, of Tel Aviv and Major Ehud Polk, 33, of Kibbutz Merhavya, were buried Tuesday in their hometown cemeteries.

The mid-air accident occurred when the planes were flying wing to wing at very close quarters and the two wing tips struck each other. Eyewitnesses said the aircraft plummeted to the ground in a large fireball.

One of the pilots was said to have died instantly in the collision, while the other managed to eject his parachute seat but was badly wounded and died on the way to the hospital aboard a helicopter.

Three Bedouin women were slightly injured when the main wreckage impacted a short distance from their encampment.

Commanding officer Maj. Gen. Avihu Bin-Nun immediately set up a commission of inquiry of seven experts to investigate the accident.

This is believed to be the first accident involving one of the 50 U.S.-built F-15 fighter aircraft in service in the Israeli air force.

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