We had only a brief window of good weather to take off. It was a drizzly morning, but we had a connecting flight to catch, so we wanted to get going. Four buddies and I had spent the week floating the Holitna River for Arctic char, grayling, and salmon, and we’d hired a pilot to fly us back to Aniak in his Cessna 206. The runway was a grassy area between some trees, and as we got going, something felt wrong. The plane seemed slow and heavy as it lifted off. It climbed to about 50 feet, and then suddenly jerked right, took a hard left, and plunged.