On December 13, 1997, at 1400 central standard time, a Mooney M20 airplane, N6159E, registered to and operated by a private owner, was substantially damaged following a loss of control during takeoff roll at Nick Wilson Field, Pocahontas, Arkansas. The private pilot and his passenger were not injured. No flight plan was filed and visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the Title 14 CFR Part 91 local personal flight that was originating when the accident occurred.

During a telephone interview and in a written statement, the pilot reported to the NTSB investigator-in-charge that during the takeoff roll on runway 36, the airplane had not yet reached takeoff speed when "it darted to the left." The pilot further reported that "the break to the left was abrupt and extreme" as though the airplane had encountered "an extreme gust of wind," although "there was hardly any wind that day." He corrected for the left turn and brought the airplane back to the right side of the runway. At this point, he "may have inadvertently" applied the brakes. The airplane "went into [a] skid sideways and went off the runway to the left." During the telephone interview, the pilot added that he "probably did not get the power back quick enough."

According to the passenger, during the takeoff roll, the airplane "suddenly turned to the left, skidded sideways," and went off the runway into the grass. The airplane came to a stop in a drainage ditch off to the left side of the runway. According to the owner, the nose gear was folded to the left, the fuselage was buckled and twisted aft of the baggage compartment, and the belly skin was crushed upward in the area of the wing carry-through spar.

According to FAA records, the pilot was issued a private pilot certificate with a single engine land airplane rating on June 1, 1997. On the Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident Report (NTSB Form 6120.1/2), the pilot indicated that he had accumulated 134.6 hours of flight time of which 12.8 hours were in a Mooney M20 airplane. In the 30 days preceding the accident, he had not flown a Mooney M20 airplane. In his written statement, the pilot commented that he had "made twenty/thirty takeoffs and landings in Mooney N6159E."

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