On June 23, 2005, at 1530 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 172, N6324E, operated by a private pilot collided with trees following a loss of directional control during takeoff. The pilot and two passengers were not injured. The airplane was substantially damaged. The 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight was operating in visual meteorological conditions without a flight plan. The flight was originating at the time of the accident.

The pilot reported he was taking off on runway 09 (2,000 feet by 75 feet, grass) at the Downwind Acres private airstrip when the accident occurred. He stated that as he became airborne, the airplane drifted to the right. He stated he attempted to apply rudder to correct for the drift, but it felt as if the rudder was "locked." The pilot aborted the takeoff and landed back on the airstrip. The pilot stated that upon landing, the airplane veered to the left as if the left brake was locked. The airplane was traveling at an airspeed of 35 to 40 miles per hour when it contacted trees along the left side of the airstrip.

The pilot reported that the brake was free and the rudder functioned normally when the airplane was removed from the trees. The pilot reported that he believes the front seat passenger, who had never flown in a small airplane, had his feet on the rudders during the takeoff.

The front seat passenger was interviewed by an inspector from the Federal Aviation Administration Flight Standards District Office in Belleville, Michigan. The inspector reported that the passenger stated his feet were flat on the floor during the flight and not on the rudder pedals. The inspector stated that he also examined the rudder and brake systems on the airplane and he did not identify any failure/malfunction that would have resulted in the loss of directional control.

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