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Moshe Menora's Israeli grandchildren were having a blast visiting their grandfather in Chicago.
During their summer trip to Chicago from Jerusalem, 17-year-old Sara Klein and Yossi, 13, Rikki, 16, and Rachel Menora, 15, spent time at their grandfather’s Skokie home, visited the Museum of Science and Industry and celebrated Rachel's 15th birthday Sunday.
Moshe, an experienced pilot and Chief Executive of Tri-United Management in Chicago, wanted to take them for a plane ride.
"He just wanted to do something with the children for a few hours," said Moshe's wife, Sema Menora. "They wanted to go in the plane. It was a special treat and he was a very skilled pilot.
"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."
The special trip ended in tragedy when Moshe’s plane malfunctioned after refueling at Mackinac Island.
Police said the twin-engine plane had not yet reached 1,000 feet after taking off from the Mackinac County Airport when it encountered trouble. The plane flipped after striking a median barrier on I-75, before resting on the shoulder about 250 miles northwest of Detroit.
Moshe, Rikki, Rachel and Sara died instantly. Yossi was thrown from the plane and suffered burns over 60 percent of his body.
What was supposed to be a carefree week in the Midwest has turned into a painful ordeal for the rest of the family.
"What can I say,” asked Chana Kavalsky, Moshe’s wife’s twin sister. “When a husband and three grandchildren die and one grandchild is sitting in a hospital in Michigan with 60 percent of his body burned …”
Those closest to the victims are huddled with Rabi Zvi Engel of Or Torah, on 3800 Dempster. After giving a few statements to the press, Moshe’s wife asked for privacy.
She 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."
Sholom Menora, father of Yossi, Rikki and Rachel is in Michigan with Yossi who is in intensive care in a Michigan hospital.
Family members are beginning to make arrangements for a funeral or memorial for Moshe. A service is tentatively scheduled for 7 pm at Or Torah. Those who knew him say he had the kindest heart, according to matzav.com.
"He was a very fine man,” said Philop Kovalsky, Moshe’s brother-in-law. “He gave a lot of charity. Very fine, good man."