Ron Arad co-pilot's son had role in Shalit return

By Jennifer Lipman, October 25, 2011
Ron Arad

Ron Arad

The pilot who flew Gilad Shalit back to his home last week was the son of an Israel Air Force fighter who was with navigator Ron Arad when he went missing in 1986.

Lieutenant Colonel Arad, who was 28 and had a baby daughter when his aircraft was shot down near Sidon, Lebanon, during the height of the first Lebanon war, was captured by terrorists from the Shia group Amal. He was believed to have been handed to Iranian Revolutionary Guards operating in Lebanon in 1988.

Twenty-five years on, he remains one of Israel's most well-known missing-in-action combatants, but his captors have refused to disclose his whereabouts or what happened to him. Israel's official position is that, without a body or confirmation, he should still be considered to be alive.

On the day he disappeared, he was flying with Major Yishai Aviram. After their plane was damaged, they both parachuted from it, but Major Aviram was able to steer his parachute away from the area that the terrorists were operating in and he was later rescued.

According to Ynet, Major Aviram's son, identified as Lieutenant Colonel R, specially requested permission to fly Sergeant Shalit back to his family home last Tuesday.

Last updated: 11:27am, October 25 2011