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Investigators Work to Determine Cause of Fatal Plane Crash

A pilot in his 70s and a 9-year-old believed to be his nephew were killed when the single-engine Cessna crashed in the front yard of a home outside Chandler Airport Thursday night.
NTSB investigators spent the day Friday documenting the wreckage of a single-engine Cessna plane that crashed Thursday night in Southwest Fresno, killing two people.

The pilot was a man in his 70s, according to Joshua Cawthra, the lead investigator of this case for the NTSB.

The pilot, and the 9-year-old, who is believed to be his nephew, were killed in the fiery crash.
 
The Fresno County Coroner's Office has not released the identities of the victims. 

Sometime late Thursday afternoon, the pilot and the passenger left Chandler Airport in Fresno and traveled out near Tehachapi. It's not yet known whether the plane landed in Tehachapi, but the plane turned around and was attempting to land back at Fresno's Chandler Airport, Cawthra said.

The pilot was licensed to operate the private aircraft, and it is unknown whether that license was current. The pilot's license listed him as a resident of Tehachapi. He was not the registered owner of the plane, which is not unusual, Cawthra said.

"Witnesses along the length of the airport reported seeing the plane flying at a fairly low altitude for the entire length of the runaway," Cawthra said.

During the attempt to land the 172 K model plane, something went wrong.

The left wing of the plane clipped a tree in the backyard of a home across the street from the airport.

"Came kind of low, made an unusual turn, but then took off and made another path, it came all the way around like that, and then clipped that tree," said Joe Luna, who's tree the plane clipped.

The plane was able to continue flying, finally crashing in the front yard of a house at the north end of the runway.

Nobody on the ground was injured.
 
The victims died on impact, said Koby Johns, public information officer with the Fresno Fire Department.

Now, investigators are working to determine the cause of the crash.

"We're trying to collect all the factual evidence and all the factual information regarding the aircraft in hopes to ultimately determine what happened, why it happened, and how to hopeful prevent these types of accidents from ever occurring again," Cawthra said.

The NTSB will release a preliminary report within five business days, but a complete official report to determine the cause of the crash can take from six months to a year.
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Fresno, CA

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