NTSB Identification: WPR14FA078
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, December 26, 2013 in Fresno, CA
Aircraft: CESSNA 172K, registration: N251JM
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 December 26, 2013, about 1821 Pacific standard time, a Cessna 172K, N251JM, was destroyed when it impacted terrain while maneuvering near the Fresno Chandler Executive Airport (FCH), Fresno, California. The airplane was registered to private individuals and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The private pilot and his passenger sustained fatal injuries. Dark night visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight. The cross-country flight originated from Tehachapi, California at 1643 with an intended destination of FCH.

Preliminary information provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed that the pilot was receiving Visual Flight Rules (VFR) flight following with Air Traffic Control (ATC). When the flight was about 10 miles south of the airport, the pilot notified ATC that he had the airport in sight. Subsequently, ATC cancelled flight following and approved the pilot to change frequencies.

Multiple witnesses located adjacent to the accident site and airport reported observing the accident airplane enter the airport traffic pattern for runway 30. A witness located on the ramp area of the airport stated that the airplane initially captured his attention when it landed hard about midway down the runway then proceeded to takeoff. Witnesses observed the airplane continue on a northwesterly heading and maneuver for landing on runway 12, where they observed the airplane fly at a high rate of speed about 10 to 15 feet above ground level (agl). The witnesses stated that the airplane entered a climb about three-quarters down the runway and continued to the southwest where a series of turns were performed. Witnesses further stated that they then observed the airplane approach runway 30. Two witnesses located about mid-field of the airport reported observing the airplane fly along the runway about 100 feet agl, and noted that the left wing navigation light appeared to be inoperative. The witnesses stated that as the airplane neared the departure end of runway 30 at an altitude of about 400 feet agl, it rolled to the left and descended in a vertical attitude below their line of site behind a row of hangars.

Examination of the accident site revealed that the airplane impacted terrain about 490 feet southwest of the departure end of runway 30. All major structural items of the airplane were located within about 50 feet of the main wreckage, except for a portion of the outboard left fiberglass wingtip. Numerous white paint chips, landing light lens cover fragments, and a portion of the left fiberglass wingtip was located about 1,406 feet southeast of the threshold of runway 30. A tree about 62 feet in height exhibited numerous broken branches about 40 to 45 feet above the ground. The wreckage was recovered to a secure location for further examination.

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