Thousands Mourn U.S. Plane Crash Victims at Beit Shemesh Funeral

Funeral held for Illinois resident and 3 of his Israeli grandchildren; an investigation into the crash is underway.

An elderly Israeli-born man and his three grandchildren were buried on Friday afternoon near Jerusalem, days after the light plane he was flying crashed in northern Michigan.

U.S. aviation authorities are still investigating what caused the plane flown Moshe Menora, who was living in the Chicago suburb of Skokie, to go down.

Menora's grandchildren - sisters Rivka and Rachel Menora and their cousin Sarah Klein – were visiting from Israel at the time of the crash.

Menora Funeral
Hagay Offen

Hundreds gathered at the Eretz HaHayim Cemetery in Beit Shemesh to pay their last respects to the two sisters, before the procession continued to the Har Nof neighborhood of Jerusalem for the funerals of Klein and her grandfather.

An initial investigation of the crash has been limited to gathering the shattered remains of the aircraft and conducting autopsies on the bodies of the crash victims. Early impressions indicate that the sole survivor of the crash, Menora's grandson Yosef, escaped the same fate because he had been sitting in the back of the aircraft and was hurled from the plane at impact.

Investigators suspect that the crash was caused by technical failures, but will consult further on that matter with representatives of the aircraft and engine manufacturers.

As of now, the investigators have not uncovered any substantial evidence of human error.

The aircraft in question was a popular dual-engine, six-seater Beechcraft model 58, so there should have been no reason for engine power failure.

If there had been any technical problems, investigators say, the pilot should have noticed and aborted the takeoff. The fact that he attempted to take off more than one time may indicate human error, say the investigators. The Marink Island Airport has only one runway.

Moshe Menora, was already 72 years old - relatively old for active pilots - but according to aviation experts, that was not necessarily a factor in the crash. They noted that Menora was a pilot with a great deal of experience, but on the other hand he may have had reduced coordination. These matters will have to be investigated thoroughly. For example, said investigators, it was important to determine when he last had a medical exams, whether he was fatigued at the time of the flight, and if he was taking any medication.

The investigation of the incident began with a examination of what transpired: Did a technical failure occur? How many times did the pilot attempt to take off? What was the weight of the aircraft, and how much fuel did it contain? Other details that will be investigated include: What was the length of the runway, and what was the windspeed? Were there problems of visibility?

In addition, the maintenance record of the aircraft will be investigated to determine if the plane had a record of problems. It will also be necessary to review the radio transmissions of the aircraft and interview potential witnesses to the crash.

This is the third time in three years that Israeli citizens have been involved in a plane crash outside the country. The last incident, still under investigation, occurred on April 29, 2009, when an Israeli couple in Greece crashed a small aircraft on the way to the island of Corfu.