NTSB Identification: ANC04LA040.
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Accident occurred Friday, April 16, 2004 in Copper Center, AK
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/29/2004
Aircraft: Piper PA-12, registration: N3029M
Injuries: 1 Minor.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

Following completion of an annual inspection, the private certificated pilot departed a private airstrip located adjacent to the maintenance facility. The airstrip was muddy and wet, with puddles of standing water. The pilot said the sky condition was about 5,500 feet overcast, visibility was about 50 miles, and the temperature was about 45 degrees F. During takeoff, the pilot said that he encountered a puddle of water that splashed over the windshield. After takeoff, about 50 feet above the ground, the engine power began to slowly decrease. There was no engine roughness or sputtering. As the engine rpm decreased, the airplane lost altitude, and the pilot selected an emergency landing area in a snow-covered field. During landing in the snow, the airplane spun to the left, the right main landing gear collapsed, and the right wing struck the ground. The pilot said the airplane received damage to the right gear, the right wing, and the fuselage. The airplane was retrieved and examined by the maintenance facility mechanic and the pilot. No mechanical malfunction was found. The mechanic reported to an FAA inspector that during the takeoff roll the airplane encountered several puddles of water. The mechanic also indicated that "the temperature and environmental conditions were ideal for carburetor icing, and poor runway conditions were a contributing factor in the accident."

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

The pilot's selection of unsuitable terrain for takeoff, and his failure to utilize carburetor heat, which resulted in a loss of engine power during takeoff initial climb, and a subsequent encounter with snow-covered terrain. Factors contributing to the accident were standing water puddles that washed over the airplane during takeoff, and carburetor icing conditions.

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