The pilot who flew Gilad Shalit
from Tel Nof Airbase to his Mitzpe Hila
home last week is Lieutenant-Colonel R. of the Israeli Air Force's Yasur Night Guides Squadron. His father, Yishai Aviram was the pilot who abandoned his aircraft 25 years ago in Lebanon with missing navigator Ron Arad.
Lieutenant Colonel R. personally requested the mission from IAF Commander Brigadier General Ido Nehushtan for "personal closure," and received the go ahead.
Shalit flew in the Yas'ur twice, first from the Amitai Base, near the Kerem Shalom crossing to Tel Nof base where he was met by the prime minister, the defense minister and the chief of staff. Later, in spite of feeling ill during the first flight, Shalit insisted on flying for the second time – this time to his Mitzpe Hila home.
Gilad and the Shalit family arrive in Yas'ur (Photo: Gil Nehushtan)
Lieutenant Colonel R. spoke with Shalit throughout the flight, telling him about the locations they were was flying over. The excitement reached its peak when the Yasur circled Mitzpe Hila with Gilad watching overhead as the crowds below cheered and waved flags to welcome him.