By ARON HELLER, Associated Press Writer – 46 mins ago
JERUSALEM – The son of an Israeli astronaut who died in the space shuttle Columbia disaster six years ago was killed Sunday when his F-16 warplane crashed on a routine training flight, the Israeli military said.
The military identified the dead pilot as Capt. Asaf Ramon, son of Ilan Ramon, Israel's first and only astronaut. One of seven crew members killed when the Columbia exploded as it re-entered the atmosphere in 2003, Ilan Ramon is seen as a national hero in Israel, and radio and TV stations broke into their broadcasts Sunday to report the news of his son's death.
The crash elicited emotional responses from Israeli leaders. The military chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, arrived at the family's home along with the air force commander after news of the crash was made public, and the country's defense minister, Ehud Barak, said he was "heartbroken."
"It is a sad and painful day," Barak told reporters.