On April 16, 2004, about 1225 Alaska daylight time, a tundra tire-equipped Piper PA-12 airplane, N3029M, sustained substantial damage when it collided with snow-covered terrain during an emergency landing. The collision occurred following a loss of engine power during takeoff/initial climb, about 16 miles southeast of Copper Center, Alaska. The airplane was being operated as a visual flight rules (VFR) cross-country personal flight under Title 14, CFR Part 91. The airplane was operated by the pilot. The private certificated pilot, the sole occupant, received minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The flight originated from a private airstrip at Kenney Lake, Alaska, and was en route to Valdez, Alaska. No flight plan was filed, nor was one required.

During a telephone conversation with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC), on April 16, the pilot reported that the airplane had been at a maintenance facility at Kenney Lake where an annual inspection had just been completed. The airstrip at the maintenance facility is oriented east/west, and is about 1,000 long and about 20 feet wide. He said he conducted a preflight inspection of the airplane, performed an engine run-up, and then departed toward the east. The pilot said the airplane climbed to about 50 feet above the ground when the engine power began to slowly decrease. There was no engine roughness or sputtering. As the engine rpm decreased, the airplane lost altitude. 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 propeller separated from the engine during the collision.

In the Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident Report (NTSB Form 6120.1) submitted by the pilot, the pilot indicated the surface of the airstrip was muddy and wet. During the takeoff roll, he indicated that 200 feet down the runway, the airplane entered a large puddle, and that water splashed over the windshield. He said the weather conditions were about 5,500 feet overcast, a visibility of about 50 miles, and the temperature was about 45 degrees F.

Following the accident, the airplane was retrieved and transported to the maintenance facility at Kenney Lake. It was examined by the pilot and the maintenance facility mechanic. During a telephone interview with the NTSB IIC on May 3, and in a written statement prepared for an Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, dated April 21, the mechanic reported that fuel was found in the carburetor, along with tiny metal slivers. The gascolator and carburetor fuel screens were clean. The engine had compression in all four cylinders. The valve train components were intact. Continuity of the engine controls, and airframe flight controls was verified. No mechanical malfunction was found. The mechanic indicated that during the takeoff, the airplane encountered several puddles of water. He also indicated that "the temperature and environmental conditions were ideal for carburetor icing, and poor runway conditions were a contributing factor in the accident."

In a written statement prepared for the FAA inspector, dated April 22, the pilot indicated that during the takeoff roll, the airplane encountered a puddle that produced "water over the top at 25 to 30 mph." The FAA inspector reported that there was water on the runway that was 6 inches deep in some areas.

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