Har Tayyasim, whose summit is 795 meters above sea level, is a nature reserve in the very heart of the Jerusalem Hills. Near the large parking lot is a stone monument that commemorates Israeli Air Force pilots who fell in the Jerusalem Hills during Israel’s War of Independence. This site was chosen for the memorial because of an Israeli plane that crashed nearby during the War of Independence. Sections of the plane form part of the memorial at the site.
Today the site is a major monument to the memory of those who fell in the service of the Israeli Air Force. Their names are recorded on four-sided pillars in accordance with the dates on which they died. Each pillar stands in its own separate plaza, with a seat opposite for those who wish to sit and remember. Two audio facilities provide information about the site.
In the southwesterly section of the hill is a lookout point that provides a wonderful view of the meanderings of the Sorek River (Nahal Soreq) and the expanses of the Jerusalem Hills. From here we can identify sites such as HaMasrek Nature Reserve, Moshav Ramat Raziel, Moshav Nes Harim, Moshav Ora, Aminadav Forest, the Kennedy Memorial, Nahal Ketalav and Mount Giora, with the tomb of Sheikh Marzuk on its summit. Further away in the distance we can see the Gush Etzion communities, the villages of Husan and Batir, Mount Gilo and the town of Al-Khader. These vistas provide a veritable feast for the eyes.
At the top of Pilots’ Mountain is Khirbet al-Akrad (“The Kurd Ruins”) and to the south of the memorial a small scenic vantage point overlooks the Sorek River, the southern part of the Jerusalem Hills, the Hebron Hills and the Judean Foothills. As winter ends, in March and April, over ten varieties of orchid can be seen growing in the nature reserve. The most common are the early spider-orchid (Ophrys sphegodes), the three-toothed orchid (Neotinea tridentata), the butterfly orchid (Anacamptis papilionacea) and the pyramidal orchid (Anacamptis pyramidalis).
On the northern flank of the mountain, close to the road that links Moshav Ramat Raziel to Kibbutz Tzuba, is an impressive grove of Greek strawberry trees (Arbutus andrachne), which are easily recognizable by their red trunks. The largest and most famous of them, which grows close to the paved plaza to the east of the aircraft memorial, has lost much of its vigor in recent years. Some of its branches have died, but as others have grown in their place the tree is still hanging on.