On February 27, 2011, about 1630 eastern standard time, a Cessna 172N, N739NY, was substantially damaged during collision with trees and terrain following an aborted landing on runway 09 at Welch Municipal Airport (I25), Welch, West Virginia. The non-certificated pilot and the passenger were seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local personal flight, which was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

The pilot, whose student pilot certificate was expired, refused to provide a statement to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector who responded, and he did not respond to telephone calls or letters from both the Safety Board and the FAA. One witness, the pilot’s brother, stated the airplane was performing traffic patterns at the airport when the accident occurred. The airplane was “too fast” on approach to the elevated runway, and the landing was aborted. The airplane was “too slow” on climb-out, struck trees at the departure end, and descended “a few hundred feet” into tall trees in the valley below.

Examination of the airplane at the accident site by the FAA inspector revealed scattered pieces of angularly cut wood, and no evidence of pre-impact mechanical anomalies.

According to FAA records, the airplane was registered to an individual in Georgia, but the airplane had been purchased by the pilot about a week prior to the accident. The most recent annual inspection was performed June 1, 2010, at 5,572 total aircraft hours.

At 1642, the weather reported at Bluefield, West Virginia, 20 miles southeast of I25, included wind from 230 degrees at 9 knots.

The Welch Municipal Airport was closed on March 15, 2007. The status of the airport was posted in the Notices to Airmen (NOTAM) and the runways were marked closed. City officials reported the pilot has operated aircraft from the airport since its closure and has continued to do so since the accident.

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