The crash happened at the Visalia Municipal Airport off Plaza Drive near Highway 198.
This Mooney 20, four-passenger plane took off for a test flight from the Visalia airport at 9:40 Tuesday morning.
Fire officials say the pilot immediately encountered mechanical problems and tried to turn around and land.
A wing hit the ground and the plane's nose gear collapsed.
The pilot was the only person on board. He was not injured in the accident.