VAN NUYS — A group of Israeli pilots paid homage Wednesday night to a fellow flier who was killed along with his five passengers, also Israelis, in a weekend plane crash.
Israel Feldman was remembered as "very straightforward and honest" at a gathering of nearly 100 people at Yad Avraham Synagogue in North Hollywood.
The crowd included members of the Van Nuys-based Israeli Flying Club that Feldman helped found. The crash was not discussed much, but was on everybody's mind, said Ori Fogel, the club president.
"It's there--everybody is thinking about the same thing," Fogel said. "It's difficult."
Feldman died Sunday night in Lancaster when the Cessna 310 he was piloting crashed on a lightly traveled street about six miles southeast of Fox Field. Feldman had requested landing instructions from the control tower about one minute before the crash, and gave no indication that the plane was having trouble.
There was no fire and investigators found no fuel in the plane's main or auxiliary tanks, but have not declared that lack of fuel was the reason for the crash.
Don Llorente, an investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, said the six-seat plane hit the ground in a near vertical dive, apparently due to loss of pilot control. The only easily recognizable wreckage was the tail.
Well before the crash, a visiting rabbi from Israel was planning a discussion Wednesday night at the North Hollywood synagogue on the subject of life after death. Fogel arranged for members of the flying club to attend, and for the beginning of the discussion to be devoted to remembrance of the six Israelis who died in the crash.
In a farewell oration, Fogel said ". . . resume your own navigation and have a nice day." Ofer Lifshiz said he heard about the crash on a television news show a few hours before learning that the victims included people he knew. "We have to learn from it, that's the most important thing," Lifshiz said.
A spokesman for the Los Angeles County coroner's office said Wednesday that five of the six victims have been positively identified and the sixth is expected to be identified today. The names are being withheld, however, because the coroner's office is not ready to release the bodies to the families.
Through friends and family members The Times has learned that in addition to Feldman, 34, the victims were Orit Mormi, 30, Feldman's fiance; siblings Oren, about 26, Alon, believed to be 21, and Tali Amrani, about 16; and Dafna Zachar, Oren Amrani's girlfriend.
The Los Angeles mortuary that is handling the arrangements said the six bodies will be flown Sunday to Israel for burial there.