Family bids farewell to pilot who died in IAF crash

Wife of Lt.Col Noam Ron says her late husband "had a tough guy image, but such a sweet heart."

Lieut-Col. (res.) Noam Ron with his family 370 (photo credit: Courtesy Ron family)
Lieut-Col. (res.) Noam Ron with his family 370
(photo credit: Courtesy Ron family)
Twenty-five years after Ella Ron and her husband got T-shirts printed up in Nepal during a year-long trip around the world, she wore her “Ron’s expedition” shirt as she greeted mourners at her home in Oranit on Tuesday afternoon.
Hours earlier, her husband, Lt.-Col. (res.) Noam Ron, died along with 31- year-old Maj. (res.) Erez Flekser when the Cobra helicopter they were flying crashed outside Kibbutz Revidim early Tuesday morning.
The shirt was a little faded but bore testament to a man who had loved traveling the world with his wife and three daughters – a handsome, Type- A personality who, to a stranger catching a glimpse of the life he left behind, seemed to fit the classic mold of the Israeli pilot.
The family set up a small computer screen in the living room, which displayed a gallery of dozens of photos from Noam’s and Ella’s trips, with and without their daughters – hiking in South America, trekking in Africa, braving the Himalayas in Nepal.
Nepal seems to have held a special place in Noam’s heart.
According to his father, Zvi, he named his hi-tech company “Sagarmatha,” the Nepalese word for Mount Everest, where he had hiked to the base camp during a trip with Ella decades earlier.
This was not the first tragedy to strike the Ron family. Sixteen years ago, Noam’s younger brother, Ayal, also a pilot, fell to his death while rappelling in the Judean Desert. On Wednesday, Noam will be buried alongside his brother in a spot he had reserved at the Morasha cemetery outside Ramat Hasharon.
His younger brother, Yoni, stood in the kitchen of the house on Tuesday, greeting well-wishers and sending photos of Noam to Israeli media outlets.
“What was Noam like? He was a winner, in everything he did,” he said. “He always did everything to be the first, and was so dedicated to his family.”
Asked if he felt an extra burden now that he was the last son left, Yoni said he didn’t see it that way.
“We’re a very strong and caring family,” he said. “We’ll take care of each other.”
Ella described her husband as a man who “was so many things, it’s hard to sum him up. He had this tough-guy image but had such a sweet heart – he always wanted to help anyone who needed it.”
Her husband had been highly devoted to the air force, she said, noting that for years he had spent one day every week serving in reserve duty.
Zvi, a geography professor at Tel Aviv University, watched his son’s photos cycle across the TV screen and recalled how Noam had become a sort of father figure when his younger brother’s death shook the family years earlier.
Speaking with a father’s pride, Zvi described his son as a man who had loved to travel and fly helicopters.
“He loved to fly so much,” he said. “I remember I asked him recently: ‘You’re 49 years old. How long are you going to do this for?’ He told me, ‘I’ll keep flying as long as I can.
They’ll have to throw me out of the air force before I’ll stop.’”