Fighter pilot to be buried next to father

Sept. 14, 2009 at 11:27 AM

JERUSALEM, Sept. 14 (UPI) -- An Israeli fighter pilot was to be buried Monday next to his father, an astronaut who died aboard the space shuttle Columbia, officials said.

Capt. Asaf Ramon, 21, died Sunday when his F-16A Falcon jet crashed during a routine training flight near the southern Hebron Hills, Haaretz said.

Ramon was to buried at Kibbutz Nahalal next to his father, Col. Ilan Ramon, who died in 2003 when the Columbia disintegrated upon re-entry, killing all seven aboard. Ilan Ramon was Israel's first astronaut and an F-16 pilot, like his son.

In a statement Sunday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu likened the death of the father and the son to a biblical tragedy, Haaretz reported.

"A father and son followed their hearts and soared to the heavens in chariots of steel, crashing to the Earth in chariots of fire," Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres, and other high-level Israeli officials, were to attend Ramon's funeral Monday.

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