Friends, fellow pilots remember two killed in Madera plane crash


The Central Valley aviation community are in shock to learn a skilled pilot and his student were killed in a plane crash on Thursday in Madera County. 

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the pilot, Joe Kulbeth, 76, Fresno was on an instructional flight with his student, Saverio Chimienti, 28, near the Madera Municipal Airport. Federal agents told Your Central Valley that both men were out doing airfield traffic pattern work, they were doing this course for about 40-30 minutes before the crash.

Madera Police Chief Dino Lawson said dispatch did receive a call from air tower official from Fresno stating they had lost contact with the aircraft. 

Officials reported the last radio contact they had was from the pilot, stating he had overshot the runway and was turning back. 

The pain of loosing a friend for Daniel Bates is still fresh after learning his friend was killed in the crash. 

“That’s the saddest thing, is to lose somebody like that,” he said.

According to Bates, Kulbeth and Chimienti took off from Sierra Sky Park, flying north to the Madera airport Thursday morning. 

He said Kulbeth was helping Chimienti get his private pilot license. 

“I’m missing him today,” he said. 

Bate is the owner of the Ultralight Sting sport single-engine aircraft, Kulbeth was his mechanic that would work on the plane. 

The NTSB will be removing the aircraft and it to Sacramento on Saturday.

The Madera County Sheriff’s Office is coordinating with federal officials on setting up a press briefing that is expected to take place at noon on Saturday. 

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