The student pilot, on the first leg of a qualifying cross-country flight, was cleared for an approach to Runway 26 and directed to land on the grass strip to the north. Once on final, he chose a landing spot directly ahead and about a third of the way along the grass runway.
As he came to a high hover at an estimated height of 7 to 10 ft, he felt a slight judder. He judged that he was not slowing to a full hover and was concerned he might be entering vortex ring effect. He decided he was too low to lower the nose and translate forward, so he remained level and pulled more power to try to hover but the helicopter descended and turned through 90°, contacting the ground heavily.
The pilot reported that the runway was changed to Runway 08, 20 to 30 minutes later. It is possible there was a light tailwind during the landing attempt. The AFISO who observed the arrival reported that the hover appeared to take place at a greater height than that perceived by the pilot.
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