NTSB: Plane tried 2 takeoffs before crash

July 22, 2010 6:32:20 AM PDT
A preliminary report is in on the plane crash that killed a Skokie man and three of his grandchildren. It shows the crash followed two failed takeoff attempts.

The crash happened July 13 in St. Ignace, Michigan. Moshe Menora, 73, was piloting the plane. A preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board found that on the third attempt the plane became airborne.

But the wings rocked back and forth, and the left wing hit one lane of Interstate 75. The plane continued on across the highway before crashing.

The children had traveled from Israel to visit their grandparents. One grandchild survived the crash.

The family took a day trip to Mackinac July 13. They were on their way home when the small plane crashed.

At the time of the funeral, Shalom Menora, Moshe Menora's son, hadn"t slept in 48 hours. He received hugs from friends and family members. There seemed to be no words to console the father who lost two daughters and the son who lost his own father.

"The family comes together. Something happens, something, I can't explain it," Shalom Menora said.

Shalom Menora traveled to Skokie from upper Michigan for the funeral service, leaving the bedside of his13-year-old son, who was the only person to survive the crash.

Moshe Menora was flying four of his grandchildren home after a day at Mackinac when he had problems on take-off. The plane struggled to get airborne, crashed on Interstate 75 and split in half at approximately 5 p.m. Tuesday.

No vehicles were involved in the plane crash. Southbound I-75 was shut down as the wreckage was cleared.

Moshe Menora was killed along with his granddaughters Ricki, 16, and Rachel Menora, 14, of Bet Shemesh, Israel, and Sara Klein, 17, of Jerusalem. Menora's 13-year-old grandson, Yossi Menora, was ejected from the plane and suffered serious injuries. He was hospitalized in critical condition in the burn unit at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor Hospital.

Moshe Menora's wife, Sema Menora, says Rachel was to turn 15 in a week. She also said she learned of the wreck with another granddaughter who is 10 years old. Sema Menora and her husband celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in March.

"He had a very good relationship with his grandchildren. He enjoyed flying and wanted them to be part of what he loved, and they loved it," she said.

Sema Menora said she last spoke with her husband Tuesday morning before they left.

"I just said, 'Have fun, have a good trip and I'll see you for dinner,"' she said.

By dinnertime, a meal of baked salmon, mashed potatoes and salad was ready.

"I knew they would be starved," Sema Menora added. "They were coming back about 5:30 p.m. Something went wrong in the takeoff."

Many who knew Moshe Menora were mourning the deeply religious and devoted family man.

"I'm not the head of the family. I'm just continuing what I was taught by my father, keep up the name of the family," Shalom Menora said.

"If you had Moshe Menora as a friend, you had a friend," said neighbor and family friend Shael Bellow.

"He loved his grandchildren. He was always interested in what they were doing and had a lot of respect for them. From the very little ones, they would just run into his arms, and they would just fill his heart with love," co-worker Sharon Leahy said.

Leahy worked with Moshe Menora for decades at his real estate company, Tri-United. She says the hard-working businessman was looking for a hobby and 30 years ago he took up flying.

All four victims were reportedly buried in Israel.

"You have to be a deep believer that this is God's will to be able to do that," said Bellows.

Moshe Menora had three children and 17 grandchildren.

The Sun-Times Media Wire and the Associated Press contributed to this report.


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