The pilot of the Delta Air Lines jet that crashed in Dallas Aug. 31, told federal investigators that he should have pushed the throttles to "full power" immediately after his jet got into trouble instead of hesitating until it was too late, according to documents released yesterday.

Instead, Capt. Larry Davis, who was at the controls as the Boeing 727 attempted to take off from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, let 23 seconds elapse as he struggled to correct the violently yawing jet before going to full power.

Less than a second later, the jet struck the ground, slid through the grass off the end of the runway and burst into flames. The crash killed 14 of the 108 on board. Delta Flight 1141 had been bound for Salt Lake City on a clear, sunny morning when the accident occurred.

"In retrospect, I should have pushed up full power immediately," Davis told investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). In a written report of that interview, released by the NTSB along with eight other reports from the investigation, Davis described how the plane's control column began to shake seconds after the plane left the ground, warning that the aircraft was about to stall.

He said he was aware that the plane's nose was unusually high as he struggled to gain lift, but he was afraid to lower it -- the usual procedure when attempting to fly out of a stall -- because he thought the jet was about to hit the ground.

A transcript of the cockpit recorder showed Flight 1141 made a routine roll down the runway and gained the proper takeoff speed and climbing power.

Two seconds after liftoff, a snap was heard, and then the control column began to shake.

"Something's wrong," Davis said, according to the transcript.

Two seconds later, the first of five engine compressor stalls was heard, indicating a disruption of airflow into the engines.

At the time, the pilots believed the sounds signaled an engine failure. Copilot Carey W. Kirkland called that out after the second sound.

Then, in rapid succession three other compressor stalls, which sound similar to a car backfiring, were heard on the tape.

"We've got an engine failure," said one of the three pilots, whose voice was unidentifiable on the tape.

"We're not gunna {sic} make it," Davis said.

Eight seconds later, Davis said, "Full power."

Then came the sounds of three impacts, a scream, and a fourth impact.

Inspection of the jet's three engines eliminated engine failure as a possibility and attention focused more steadily on the possibility that the jet's wing flaps were either improperly set or not set at all.

Davis recalled hearing the flight engineer, Stephen Judd, call out the flap setting on the checklist and copilot Wilson respond.

In the NTSB interviews, Davis could not remember verifying the flap-setting gauges in the cockpit. Wilson said he did not recall any of the preflight operations after Flight 1141 pushed back from the gate. Judd said he believes that the flap handle, inside the cockpit, was set to the 15-degree position -- proper for takeoff -- but does not remember looking at the flap indicator gauge.

Two clicks were picked up by the cockpit recorder just after the pilots were instructed to begin taxiing toward the runway. Investigators, in an effort to determine the origin of the clicks, recreated the takeoff of Flight 1141 at Delta's Atlanta headquarters with a similar aircraft. But investigators said they were unable to match any of the clicks heard on Flight 1141's tape to clicks made by the flap handle.