Capt. Assaf Ramon, son of astronaut Ilan Ramon, dies in training flight crash
The Israeli military has been ordered to investigate the cause of the F-16 crash in which Lt. Assaf Ramon, 20, promoted posthumously to captain, lost his life on a training flight in battle formation 80,000 ft. over the Hebron hills. The pilot of the second jet taking part in the exercise reported that 30 seconds before the crash, Assaf Ramon had stopped responding to communications, suggesting that a sharp turn may have affected his faculties, perhaps causing a momentary blackout.
The debris spread over a large area is being collected and carefully sifted for clues to the disaster. Earlier this year, Assaf Ramon and his flight instructor managed to restart the engine of a Skyhawk A4 after it suddenly died and return safely to base.
Assaf was the son of the Israeli astronaut and Air force Colonel Ilan Ramon who was killed six years ago aboard the Columbia spacecraft when it exploded over Southern Texas during reentry. In 1981, he astronaut flew one of the planes which bombed the Iraqi nuclear reactor.
After the Columbia tragedy, Assaf announced plans to follow in his father’s footsteps; he was killed in a training flight crash two months after graduating from flying course as valedictorian of his class.
US Middle East envoy George Mitchell, who arrived in Israel Saturday night, conveyed the American people’s condolences to the Ramon family for the tragedy of “a young man who died in his prime and in the line of duty.”
President Hosni Mubarak voiced sympathy to prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu when they talked in Cairo Sunday.