The private pilot reported that, shortly after the application of takeoff power, the Cessna 172 pulled strongly to the left while on the runway at the airport in Indian Trail, N.C.
He attempted to correct with right aileron and rudder, however, shortly after rotation, the airplane climbed at an excessive pitch angle and continued to the left.
He lowered the nose to regain some airspeed, but the airplane hit the ground before coming to rest against the trees bordering the runway.
The airplane sustained substantial damage to the wings and fuselage, while the pilot sustained minor injuries.
The pilot told investigators that he recently had knee replacement surgery and was unable to bend his left knee, which caused an inadvertent application of left rudder that could not be overcome during the takeoff and initial climb. This resulted in a loss of airplane control and subsequent impact.
Probable Cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain airplane control during takeoff and initial climb. Contributing was the pilot’s physical limitation which caused an inadvertent application of left rudder.
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This September 2021 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.