On September 29, 2000, at 1504 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-32-260, N33117, piloted by a private pilot, was destroyed following takeoff, from runway 27 (2,380 feet by 110 feet turf), at the Gradolph Field Airport, Petersburg, Michigan. The aircraft sustained damage from impact forces and a post-impact fire. The 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight was not on a flight plan. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The pilot and two passengers were not injured. The flight was originating with an intended destination of Eaton Rapids, Michigan.

In a written statement, the pilot said that he was departing on runway 27 using a short field takeoff procedure. He said that the wind was 270 degrees at 5-7 knots. He said that the airplane reached 50 miles per hour about halfway down the runway and that "...shortly after reaching 60 mph, liftoff occurred but plane settled back down. Approx[imateley] 2/3 down runway I finally got the plane up." He said that the plane failed to climb and he couldn't clear the corn crop. The airplane impacted the corn and came to rest in the cornfield where it was consumed by a post impact fire. The pilot said that the grass on the west end of the runway was about 8 inches high. In his written report, the pilot listed no mechanical malfunction of the aircraft.

A postaccident examination of the aircraft, by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector, failed to reveal any anomalies that could be associated with a preexisting condition. The inspector also noted that the grass on the runway was about 3 inches high and that the grass was "very damp but firm".

A weather report for a reporting station located about 13 nautical miles and 85 degrees magnetic was reporting winds, about 20 minutes after the accident, as 130 degrees at 3 knots.

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