'Assaf was hard-working and popular'

Friends and acquaintances express sorrow over death of IAF pilot who "had so much so be proud of."

assaf ramon 2003 248 88 aj (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
assaf ramon 2003 248 88 aj
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Friends and acquaintances on Sunday evening expressed their sorrow over the death of IAF officer Lt. Assaf Ramon - son of the late Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon - who was killed earlier in the day after the F-16 he was flying crashed into the southern Hebron Hills. Gil Pereg, principal of Blich High School in Ramat Gan, where Assaf was a student, told Channel 2 that the 20-year-old was "was a special man." "Assaf was very popular, hard-working, and a top achiever in his studies and in sports," he said. Pereg stressed that "despite all his achievements and although he had so much so be proud of, he was a uniquely humble person." Assaf's 17-year-old brother Iftach is currently a student at Blich. Col. (res.) Ze'ev Raz, who led the IAF attack on the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq in 1981 and was a close friend Ilan Ramon, who was part of that bombing raid, suggested that the cause of the crash may have been a black-out caused by excessive pressure on Assaf's body. In an interview with Channel 2, Raz explained that while the F-16A fighter jet, which Ramon was piloting Sunday, "is not the most advanced aircraft in the IAF, it is the lightest and the best at maneuvering." "These maneuvers apply intense pressure on the body," Raz told the station, speculating that Assaf "may have fallen unconscious" during the flight, possibly leading to the fatal crash. When asked whether Assaf's father Ilan was a risk-taker, the former IAF pilot stressed, "He was brave and courageous, but had good judgment and never took unnecessary risks."