On March 4, 2009, about 1500 central standard time, a single-engine Piper, PA-18A, airplane, N3352B, was substantially damaged upon impact with terrain following a loss of control shortly after takeoff from a private airfield near Wood Lake, Nebraska. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual. The pilot and passenger received serious injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 flight.

The pilot and passenger planned to conduct an aerial view of the surrounding area. The pilot preceded to do a "routine walk-around" preflight inspection before departing on a grass field runway. In the Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident Report (NTSB Form 6120.1) submitted by the pilot, he stated he has no memory of the actual crash. Additionally, there were no reported witnesses to the accident.

The passenger, who had only flown in a small airplane once before, reported that the lift-off appeared "smooth" and he didn't hear any changes in the engine sound or an "[engine] cough." The passenger continued, "after the airplane climbed to about 50 feet in the air, the airplane dived sharply to the right and dove straight to the ground. He added, that the pilot stated, "I think we're going down."

Photographs of the scene and information provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, who responded to the site, indicated the airplane impacted the terrain in a nose down attitude. An on-site examination of the airplane was conducted. The engine was rotated by the propeller and continuity to the rear of the engine and cylinders was established; the spark plugs appeared "normal.” Continuity of the airplane's flight controls was also confirmed.

At 1450, the automated weather station (ANW) located approximately 15 miles east-southeast from the accident site, reported winds from 170 degrees at 7 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, a clear sky, temperature 72 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 32 degrees Fahrenheit, and altimeter setting of 29.65 inches of Mercury.

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