Each year the squadron marks the anniversary of Arad's capture by the Lebanese Shiite militia Amal by staging a fly-past with three planes. The missing fourth plane represents Arad's jet.
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This year the squadron decided, for the first time, to reenact the missing navigator's last flight.
Lieutenant-Colonel (res.) Eli (49), who took part in the reenactment along with three other pilots, also participated in the assault from which Arad never came back. "I was pretty young at the time," he recalled on Wednesday. "It was only the third attack I took part in."
Over the years Eli led the fly-pasts in honor of Arad. "This year we were looking for a new idea, and the squadron commander decided to stage a flight that would have similar characteristics to Ron's last flight," he told Yedioth Ahronoth.
"When I first heard of the idea I thought it was nice. But during the flight itself I became very emotional. Other pilots, even those who did not know Ron, were very emotional as well. I hope the day will come when Ron will be able to fly back with us."
The Squadron commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Oded, said, "Ron has not been forgotten – not for one moment. Everyone who serves in the squadron is familiar with every detail of the story of the navigator who never returned.
Captain Doron, who was in charge of the special flight, said "the idea was to get closer to Ron. When I think of Ron Arad, I don’t want to think about diplomatic initiatives as much."
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