From the Chicago Tribune: The private plane that crashed July 13 killing a Skokie pilot and three grandchildren had failed to take off twice before the third and fatal attempt, an investigation has determined. The Beech 58 twin-engine plane tried to get airborne twice but both attempts were aborted by the pilot, Moshe Menora, according to a preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board.The first try ended about halfway down the runway; and second about three-quarters down the runway. After both, the pilot taxied back and tried again, the report said.
During the third takeoff attempt at the Mackinac County Airport at St. Ignace, Mich., the airplane became airborne, the “wings rocked back and forth,” and the left wing hit a lane of Interstate 75 about 1,000 feet from the end of the runway, the report said.
The airplane crossed the interstate, crashed and caught fire, the report said.
Menora’s grandson, Yossi Menora, 13, managed to unbuckle and exit the airplane, NTSB investigator Aaron Sauer said Wednesday.
Yossi was reported in serious condition at University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor where he is being treated for severe burns.
Killed in the crash were Menora, 73, and his granddaughters, Sara Klein, 17, Rebecca Menora, 16, and Rachel Menora, 14, who were visiting from Israel. The five were returning from a day trip to Mackinac Island when the crash occurred.
Sauer said it was too soon to conclude what caused the crash. There was no indication yet why the first two takeoff attempts were aborted, he said.
The plane’s records and wreckage, the pilot’s medical history, and other information were still being evaluated, Sauer said.
Sauer said a load calculation had not yet been done, but he discounted speculation that the plane was overloaded. There was little or no baggage on board, and the passengers were all young teens.
Weather conditions reported at the time of the accident were clear sky, calm winds, and a temperature of approximately 80 degrees.
Rob Mark, a pilot and aviation consultant, told the Tribune there was “not enough margin for error” due to the length of the runway, which is 3,800 feet long.
“Wing rocking back and forth is a classic wing stall — trying to make the airplane fly before it is ready and simply not having enough runway to get moving faster proven out by the aborts,” Mark said. However, he added, “We don’t know what else may have failed during takeoff to make the situation worse.”
Minimum takeoff distance for that type of airplane at maximum weight is 2,300 feet, but that is also figured at 59 degree temperature, Mark said.
“Higher air temperatures can add 50 percent to the takeoff distance and that’s just to get clear of the ground,” Mark said. “Climbing would be a whole other issue.”