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Ilan Ramon

16 months after US President Bill Clinton announced that an Israeli would join a space shuttle mission, the world knew that a real Israeli fighter pilot was to join a NASA crew. But we hadn't learned his name. The announcement came that Israel's first astronaut was a veteran jet fighter pilot, and the IAF was to foot the bill for his training in the US. He was identified only as "Col. A.," a veteran F-16 pilot who had logged many combat missions and was an electrical engineer, the IDF said. Col. A. had held a variety of both command and operational tasks in the IAF, including weapons research and development, the IDF said. He was 43 years old and had bailed out of his plane at least once in his career. It was to be more than a year before the world learned Ramon's
name. The IAF does not like to reveal the identities of its pilots, who are usually filmed either from
behind or with their helmets on. But its hand was forced when NASA unveiled the name of Ramon
and his backup Lt.-Col. Yitzhak Mayo. Their mission, as described then, was to test ways to eliminate
disturbances in space that affect photographs of the earth, the air force said yesterday.

by Alan D. Abbey Jerusalem Post February 1, 2003 On April 29, 1997,
http://www.jr.co.il/pictures/israel/history/space.htm