NTSB Identification: WPR11FA430
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, September 04, 2011 in Tehachapi, CA
Aircraft: CESSNA P210, registration: N7WJ
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On September 4, 2011, at 1125 Pacific daylight time, a Cessna P210, N7WJ, collided with trees near Tehachapi, California. The pilot/owner was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The pilot and one passenger sustained fatal injuries; the airplane sustained substantial damage from impact forces and a post crash fire. The local personal flight departed Cable Airport, Upland, California, at 1023. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.

The pilot called a friend who had a home near Tehachapi, and indicated that he would fly over the home later that morning on a pleasure flight.

A witness at the Mountain Valley Airport in Tehachapi possessed commercial pilot certificates for airplane single-engine and multiengine land, as well as an instrument rating. He was working on a glider rating at Mountain Valley and was familiar with the surrounding area. He noticed an airplane approaching the airport from the southeast on a northwesterly heading. The airplane was low over the wind turbines in the area, and began a 360-degree turn in a 45- to 60-degree angle of bank after clearing the ridge line that they were on. He noticed two landing gear, and from his vantage point thought that the airplane had a tail wheel. The airplane descended a couple of hundred feet during the turn. He noted that it was below the tree line at that point, and it continued the turn to a southwesterly heading. It started up a valley between two ridgelines and disappeared from his sight behind the nearest one. He stated that he had encountered downdrafts in this area on previous occasions, and didn't think this was an area where one should fly low. He estimated that the airplane flew about 500 yards out of his sight; about 20 seconds after it disappeared, he saw white, then gray, then black smoke.

Another witness was working in his yard, and noticed an airplane circle low and slow around him twice. The engine sounded like the revolutions per minute (rpm) were low, and the wings waggled a couple of times. He had relatives do this on occasion, and thought that maybe one of them had purchased a new airplane and was doing the flyby. The airplane was barely above his neighbor’s house. He thought that he saw something red and white fall off the airplane, and then heard multiple crunch sounds like the airplane was hitting trees. He saw smoke within 1 minute.

The pilot's friend, who is also a pilot, observed the airplane flying around his home, and stated he recognized it as his friend’s airplane. He noted that the landing gear and flaps were down. The airplane rolled out heading toward rising terrain, and the landing gear and flaps began to go up. He looked down, and then heard a noise; he looked back up and observed smoke.

The National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge (IIC), a Federal Aviation Administration inspector, and representatives from the airframe and engine manufacturers examined the wreckage at the accident site. The coordinates of the main wreckage were 35 degrees 04.08 minutes north latitude 118 degrees 26.007 minutes west longitude. The debris path was along a magnetic heading of 215 degrees. The airplane came to rest upright on a northerly heading; the engine was inverted and pointing about 90 degrees clockwise from the main wreckage.

The first identified point of contact (FIPC) was broken limbs near the top of a 20-foot-tree. At the base of the tree were broken limbs and the red and white left wing tip fairing containing a red navigation lens. About 10 feet further into the debris path was a second tree with upper branches broken; near the base of this tree was the outboard rib and about 2 feet of skin from the left wing. Another 10 feet into the debris path was another tree with topped branches. The next point of contact was the principle impact crater (PIC), which began about 20 feet before the final resting place of the main wreckage. Fire consumed the majority of the airframe skin and structure. Investigators identified remnants of all flight controls and airframe structure.

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