Thursday, April 25, 2019

TL Ultralight TL StingSport, N797N: Fatal accident occurred April 25, 2019 near Madera Municipal Airport (KMAE), Californa

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Fresno, California

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: 

Location: Madera, CA
Accident Number: WPR19FA121
Date & Time: 04/25/2019, 1249 PDT
Registration: N797N
Aircraft: TL Ultralight SRO STINGSPORT
Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Instructional 

On April 25, 2019, at 1249 Pacific daylight time, a TL Ultralight Sro Stingsport airplane, N797N impacted terrain shortly after takeoff from Madera Municipal Airport (MAE), Madera, California. The flight instructor and student pilot were fatally injured, and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the flight that originated from Sierra Sky Park Airport (E79), Fresno, California about 1200.

Another pilot, who was flying in the area, reported that the accident airplane remained in the airport traffic pattern for 30-40 minutes. After he landed at MAE, he heard one of the accident pilots announce that they would perform a simulated "emergency turn around at 500 feet." That was the last transmission he heard from the accident airplane. About 10 minutes later, the other pilot took off from MAE and observed the accident airplane in an open field about 0.3 nautical miles north-west from the departure end of runway 30.

The airplane was recovered to a secure location for further examination. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: TL Ultralight SRO
Registration: N797N
Model/Series: STINGSPORT No Series
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site:
Condition of Light:
Observation Facility, Elevation:
Observation Time:
Distance from Accident Site:
Temperature/Dew Point:
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: / ,
Lowest Ceiling:
Altimeter Setting:
Type of Flight Plan Filed: 
Departure Point:

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 36.998056, -120.126389 (est)

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email 

Saverio "Sam" Chimienti Jr.
April 29, 1990 - April 25, 2019

Saverio Chimienti Jr. passed away from this earth into the arms of the Lord at the age of 28. He was born in Fresno, Ca. to Saverio and Marie Chimienti and graduated from Central High School in 2008. He worked with his father farming almonds in the family business started by his grandparents who migrated from Italy to New Jersey, then to Fresno.

 He was a loving father, son, brother, and uncle. Saverio had a love for cars and adventure. He enjoyed spending time on the Pismo Dunes riding dirt bikes and sand railing, boating on Shaver Lake, snowboarding, and golf. He was a member of San Joaquin Country Club. Most of all he loved spending time and doing things with his son. His most recent endeavor was obtaining his private pilot's license. Aviation became his true passion.

He is preceded in death by his grandparents, Frank and Pasqua Chimienti, Joseph Lorito, step grandfather Don Milne, and niece Julianna Chimienti.

He is survived by his son, Saverio III; Parents, Saverio and Marie, Grandmother Mary Milne, Brothers Frank and wife Dorilyn, Joseph, and Patrick, Niece Kathryn and Newphew Leonardo, many Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, and Friends. He will forever be missed.

Visitation will be held at Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church on Friday, May 3, 2019 from  1:00 p.m to 1:30 p.m., followed by the Recitation of the Rosary at 1:30 p.m.. Mass of Christian Burial at 2:00 p.m.

Interment will be private.

Remembrances in Sam's name may be made to Valley Children's Healthcare, C/O LaVisionaria Guild, 9300 Valley Children's Place, Madera, CA 93636

Joe Franklin Kulbeth

Joe Franklin Kulbeth, 76, of Fresno, CA, passed away Thursday, April 25, 2019, in Madera County, CA. A Graveside Service will be 10:00 a.m. Saturday, May 25, 2019, at New Cleveland Cemetery.

He was born April 20, 1943 in Warren Arkansas. He graduated from Cleveland High School in 1962 and went into the military where he served as a helicopter crew chief during the Vietnam War, for which he earned several awards.

Joe was a California Highway Patrolman for 25 years. Early in his career with the CHP, Joe certified as Pilot in Command with fixed wing operations in Coalinga and transferred to the CHP helicopter operations, located at Fresno Air Terminal, where he conducted search and rescue missions throughout the Sierra Nevada and Central Valley. After retiring from law enforcement, Joe became very involved in the Fresno aviation community; he was a certified instructor where he shared his love for flying with many students.

From early days, Joe was obsessed with aircraft; he was happiest when flying. He never knew a stranger, made friends everywhere he went.

Joe is preceded in death by his mother, Gracie Maxine Roark McDonald. Joe will be laid to rest beside her in his loved Mississippi.

Joe is survived by wife, Jean Kulbeth; brother, Jimmy Kulbeth (Loyce); sons, Robert Kulbeth (Sheila) of Stafford, Virginia, Dewayne Kulbeth of Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Jeff Taylor (Tami); daughters, Melanie Carter (Mike), Sharon Rice (Chris), and Michelle Rice (Doug); grandchildren, Hadley and Ryan Kulbeth, Lilliana and Ray Cortez (their mother Kristin Kulbeth), Jacob Taylor, Luke Taylor (Molly), Logan and Andrew Carter, Timothy and Hannah Leece; and many Roark/Saunders relatives.

Investigator In Charge (IIC): Maja Smith
National Transportation Safety Board

A Saturday briefing by the National Transportation Safety Board released little new information and requested the public’s help in gathering more information on the plane crash that killed a Fresno  flight instructor, and his student last week.

Pilot Joe Kulbeth, 76, and student pilot Saverio Chimienti Jr., 28, were both killed Thursday, about 1 p.m. when the plane apparently plummeted from about 400 to 500 feet into a field just north of Avenue 17 and Road 23, after taking off from the Madera Municipal Airport. The crash was not witnessed, according to authorities, but a passing motorist spotted the wreckage of the plane in the field and reported it to the California Highway Patrol, via 911.

The plane was reportedly flown that day out of Sierra Sky Park in Fresno, and was equipped with dual control yokes, so it is not known which man was operating the plane at the time of the incident. The weather was clear, calm and hot the day of the fatal crash.

NTSB air safety investigator Maja Smith said the investigation was still in the initial stages of gathering facts and they had just recovered the plane for inspection at another location. The fuel tanks on the plane were intact and were not breached in the crash, Smith said, and although the smell of fuel was present at the scene, the plane did not explode or burn.

Smith said the aircraft was a two-seat, light sport plane, and was equipped with a ballistic parachute system, which had not deployed and was still active at the crash site, prompting the response of the Fresno bomb squad to disarm the device. The parachute system contains high pressure explosive components which operate similar to an air bag on deployment. 

“This morning the wreckage was recovered and sent to a secure location to start the second phase of the investigation,” Smith said. “We look at three areas, man, machine and environment. The pilots, their flight experience, their medical certificates, how many (flight) hours they have, along with the investigation of the machine, air frame components that might be questionable ... weather data, and any communications from (the Fresno control) tower or local radio communications. We are also here gathering all witness statements we can. 

“We would like to invite anybody that was in the area at the time of the accident, not necessarily an (eye) witness, but people who were flying their own planes or might have heard something on the radio to contact us, or their local law enforcement agencies. You can also send an email to with any information they have,” she said. 

Smith said the preliminary report would be out in about 5 to 10 days, but the report on the full investigation, along with any probable cause, would only be released after the full investigation process, which takes 24 months. Two investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration were also investigating the scene and incident. 

“We did have one witness, another pilot, who said he heard them on the (local pilot channel ) radio back and forth for three or four minutes, so they were here for a while. The last transmission that came from them was they were asking for (courtesy airspace) to do a simulated emergency turn around at 500 (feet in altitude), and then he didn’t hear back from them. He then visually spotted the plane down in the field, about 5 to 10 minutes after their last transmission.  

“And we’d really like to hear from anybody else who might have been flying (or listening) at the time. They were on the local radio channel where pilots can talk to each other, to make sure there are no collisions, clearing runways, VFR, advisory calls...” Smith said. 

The Madera Municipal Airport does not have a radio control tower and is considered an uncontrolled airport, according to Smith, with only visual flight rules and no flight plan, or communications required.  Smith said it was still unknown how much fuel was on board at the time the plane crashed but the plane was not fueled in Madera. 

Official cause of death will be determined by autopsy, by the Madera County Coroner’s Office.

NTSB records show one previous fatal plane crash at the Madera Municipal Airport in the early morning of June 10, 1992, when a Piper PA 36-300, operated by Madera Mosquito Abatement District, crashed.

Original article can be found here ➤

The remains from a plane crash just outside Madera have been moved to a safe location, as the National Transportation Safety Board continues its investigation continues into what caused a fatal plane crash Thursday in a field near Avenue 17 and Road 23.

It’s still unclear what exactly caused the light sport Stingsport airplane to crash, killing Fresno residents Joe Franklin Kulbeth, 76, and Saverio Chimienti Jr., 28, during a training flight just before 1 p.m.

But National Transportation Safety Board air safety investigator Maja Smith revealed some new details Saturday during a news briefing at Madera County Sheriff’s Office headquarters.

Among the highlights of those details, Smith said the plane’s parachute did not deploy during the incident. The plane was equipped with a ballistic parachute system that deploys with a small explosive charge in an emergency. That prompted a bomb squad unit from the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office to be called to the scene to disarm the system.

Smith said a preliminary report would be released in five to 10 days. A full report could take about two years, she said.

A team involving Smith and two Federal Aviation Administration investigators retrieved the parts Friday and sent them to be examined. The next phase of the investigation will include looking into the pilot’s flight and medical history, as well as any aircraft issues if the weather was a factor in the crash.

Smith said the plane’s fuel tanks were not breached during the crash. She said investigators were able to smell the fuel on scene, and adding there were no signs the plane had refueled at the Madera airport.

Smith said investigators have heard from at least one pilot who shared that he heard radio communication coming from the aircraft before the crash. Smith said the pilot heard the two men killed were about to perform a “simulated emergency turnaround.” NTSB is attempting to obtain radar data to determine the altitude of the plane at the time it went down.

The plane was registered to an address at Sierra Sky Part Airport, in northwest Fresno. Smith said it’s possible the aircraft was not in communication with air traffic control at Madera Municipal Airport, since the air traffic in the area is uncontrolled and does not require aircraft to make radio calls when they move between airports.

“We don’t have any information right now that they were in contact with any agency services,” Smith said.

But airplanes, like the downed Stingsport, are equipped with individual radio systems that allow pilots to communicate with other pilots for advisories.

Smith said that is how the pilot witness heard of the training flight. She’s turning to other pilots who may have flown in the area at the time of the crash to come forward so investigators can get a clear picture of the crash.

“I would really like if anybody who was in the area at the time the airplane was flying to give us a buzz,” Smith said.

Investigators still do not know which of the occupants was flying the airplane. Chimienti Jr. held a student pilot license and Kulbeth had a commercial flight license. The FAA does not allow student pilots who fly to carry passengers.

Story and video ➤

The Madera County Sheriff's Office has confirmed that two people are dead following a plane crash near the Madera Municipal Airport. 

The victims killed in the plane crash have been identified as Joe Kulbeth, 76, and Saverio Chimienti Jr., 28. Both are residents of Fresno. 

Law enforcement says the crash happened near Road 23 and Avenue 17 early Thursday afternoon. 

Kayla Serratto with the Madera County Sheriff's Office says both victims died at the scene. 

Based on witness accounts, she says it's likely the plane took off from the Madera Municipal airport, which is just a little more than a mile from the crash site. 

Among the wreckage were also safety concerns for investigators - prompting the Fresno County sheriff's bomb squad to be called out as well. 

"We did call Fresno's EOD team just to disarm some safety equipment on the plane to ensure its safe for us to be around the scene and do any removal," Serrato says. 

Sheriff's deputies will now take over the coroner role. Meanwhile, the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration are en route to determine what caused the plane to go down. 

The federal agencies are expected to be at the site on Friday, but in the meantime, a sheriff's unit is posted at the crash site until they arrive.

Original article can be found here ➤

Two people were killed Thursday when a small airplane crashed in a Madera County field, according to the sheriff’s office.

Madera County Sheriff’s identified Fresno residents Joe Kulbeth, 76, and Saverio Chimienti Jr., 28, as the two people killed in the crash.

The plane crashed in a rural area west of Madera near Avenue 17 and Road 23. The Madera Municipal Golf Course and city airport are nearby.

The incident was reported by the California Highway Patrol just before 1 p.m. The cause of the crash remains under investigation. The two people were pronounced dead at the scene, and have not been identified.

The Fresno County Sheriff’s Explosive Ordinance Disposal Team was called to assist, though Fresno sheriff’s spokesman Tony Botti said there was no threat of explosives from the crash.

Botti said the special team was requested to handle a sensitive matter from the crash and said it had to do with the aircraft’s construction.

The Madera sheriff’s office described the bomb squad’s work as disarming safety equipment aboard the plane.

Madera police and fire departments also responded to the scene. The National Transportation Safety Board confirmed the aircraft was a TL Ultralight SRO Stingsport. The agency said it is investigating the crash.

Original article can be found here ➤


  1. What equipment on an ultralight needs to be disarmed by a bomb squad?
    Does this have a Cirrus style CAPS ??

  2. In this case, 'Ultralight' is part of the manufacturer name "TL Ultralight", not the category of aircraft. Confusing I know. This was a Light Sport category aircraft. And yes, likely the explosive equipment was a parachute rocket.

  3. That was a messed up maneuver "emergency turn around", to even consider trying at 500 AGL. First, it is not a maneuver that is part of flight training. Second, it is a maneuver that the FAA actively discourages pilots from attempting at anything below pattern altitude because it usually results in a spin-in fatal crash as did this one. Just a really reckless CFI. Poor kid just got hooked up with the wrong guy who was showboating. RIP. If they were at 500 AGL when the stall/spin began, the BRS would have saved them if either had presence of mind to pull it. The fact that it was not pulled indicates the CFI was surprised when his maneuver resulted in a stall/spin. Really a sad outcome of this "training lesson". I hope the kid's parents have contacted an attorney.

  4. From the aircraft POH:

    This airplane is certified as a Light Sport Aircraft and is not approved for aerobatic flight, including spins. All aerobatic maneuvers, including spins, are prohibited. An aerobatic maneuver, as defined by 14 CFR 91.303, is an intentional maneuver involving an abrupt change in an aircraft’s attitude, an abnormal attitude, or abnormal acceleration, not necessary for normal flight."

  5. The CFI was a friend of mine, and an experienced glider insteuctor. Years ago, he gave me my self-launch endorsement in a Lambada motorglider. Simulating low-altitude tow rope breaks is a standard training maneuver in gliders (we did a successful one together from 300 feet AGL with no difficultly), but sadly, the Sting Sport does not perform like a motorglider.