On June 4, 2000, at 1030 Eastern Daylight Time, a Grumman American AA-1A, N6340L was substantially damaged after collision with airport lighting and terrain during takeoff from Runway 14 at the Northampton Airport (7B2), Northampton, Massachusetts. The student pilot was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the local solo flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

In a written statement, the student pilot said:

"During a soft field take off, I went into ground effect and the plane drifted to the left at which time the plane settled back to the ground. The plane went into the grass. [I] applied full right rudder and plane straightened out, then hit the VASI box about 20 feet in front of the plane. [I] tried to climb over [the] VASI box [but] clipped the left wheel on the VASI. [The] plane nosed over and flipped when the nose dug in. [I] turned off master switch and climbed out of the plane with no injuries."

In a subsequent written statement, the student pilot said:

"I pulled the yoke all the way back and applied full power. The nose came up and I could not see the runway ahead of me. The airplane became light, rendering the brakes ineffective. At the same time the aircraft started to drift left. I lowered the nose to see where I was and found I was heading towards one of the runway lights."

In a written statement, the student pilot's flight instructor said:

"During take off, the plane lifted barely off and went to the left. Out on the grass, [the plane] sat down and hit the VASI. Pilot tried to lift the plane over the VASI, but the left main struck it, and [the plane] tumbled over."

In a telephone interview, a Federal Aviation Administration aviation safety inspector said he interviewed the student pilot. The student pilot reported 18 hours of total flight experience and said that the airplane had no mechanical deficiencies.

The weather reported at Springfield, Massachusetts, 9 miles southeast of Northampton, was scattered clouds at 25,000 feet with winds from 220 degrees at 3 knots.

According to the FAA Advisory Circular AC-61-23C:

"The effect of torque increases in direct proportion to engine power, airspeed, and airplane attitude. If the power setting is high, the airspeed slow, and the angle of attack high, the effect of torque is greater. During takeoffs and climbs, when the effect of torque is most pronounced, the pilot must apply sufficient right rudder pressure to counteract the left turning tendency and maintain a straight takeoff path."

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