On December 12, 2002, at 1423 eastern standard time, a Robinson R-22, N9444Y, was substantially damaged when it impacted the ground during a practice autorotation, near Suffolk, Virginia. The certificated commercial pilot was not injured, and the passenger was seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

According to the pilot, he was demonstrating an autorotation for the passenger. The maneuver was performed to a golf course driving range. During the flare for touchdown, the tail rotor struck a driving range tee box, and the helicopter rolled onto its left side.

A Federal Aviation Administration inspector examined the wreckage after the accident. He observed both main rotor blades were damaged and the tail rotor gearbox had separated from the tail boom.

The pilot reported 709 hours of total flight experience in Robinson R-22's.

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