On September 15, 2002, about 0930 Pacific daylight time, an experimental Air Command 503 gyrocopter, N25069, registered to a private individual and operated by a student pilot as a 14 CFR Part 91 instructional flight, landed hard and bounced at the Prineville Airport, Prineville, Oregon. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed for the local flight. The gyrocopter was substantially damaged and the student pilot, the sole occupant, was not injured.

The student pilot reported that he flew the aircraft down to about 11 feet above ground level over the runway for landing. He then pulled the control stick back to level the aircraft. The student pilot stated that the aircraft ballooned a little so he pushed the stick forward. At this point, the aircraft was about 12 feet above the runway and began to rapidly descend. The student pilot applied power to arrest the sink rate, however, the rotor speed had decayed and the aircraft landed hard with no forward airspeed. After touchdown, the aircraft bounced and tilted to the left. The rotors contacted the runway surface and the aircraft came to rest on its left side.

The student pilot reported no mechanical failures or malfunctions with the aircraft at the time.

The student pilot reported a total flight time in all aircraft (gyrocopter) of 46.2 hours. A total of 19.8 hours were accumulated as pilot-in command.

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