On September 9, 1994, at 1240 mountain daylight time, a Hiller UH-12E helicopter, N12RF, sustained substantial damage during a hard landing. The pilot was not injured on this local area solo instructional flight which departed Grand Junction, Colorado, at 1219. No flight plan was filed and visual meteorological conditions prevailed.

The pilot was not helicopter rated and was in the process of receiving instruction towards gaining that rating.

The pilot stated he was practicing autorotations to a sand bar near the Colorado River. He said his forward speed and descent rate became excessive and he applied aft cyclic to recover. Touchdown was hard and the main rotor struck the tail boom.

Density altitude at the time of the accident was approximately 7,500 feet and the wind was light and variable.

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