HISTORY OF FLIGHT On July 19, 2009, about 0840 Eastern daylight time, a Robinson R44 II helicopter, N25VH, was substantially damaged during a forced landing near Silver Spring, Pennsylvania. The student pilot, the sole person on board, was not injured. The instructional flight was operated under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. According to the pilot, she departed Frederick Municipal Airport (FDK), Frederick, Maryland, about 0745, with an intended destination of Lancaster Airport (LNS), Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The pilot reported that she conducted the cruise portion of the flight at an altitude of 3,000 feet above mean sea level (msl), at an airspeed of approximately 110 knots. After she established communications with the LNS air traffic control tower, and was getting ready to begin her descent to the airport, the pilot noticed that the vertical speed indicator was indicating a descent of approximately 1,000 feet per minute, and that the airspeed was approximately 120 knots. The pilot manipulated the collective, cyclic and throttle in an effort to reduce or stop the descent, but the helicopter did not respond as the pilot expected, and the descent continued. She determined that she would not be able to reach LNS, and selected a field suitable for a landing. Despite the fact that the engine was operating, the pilot stated that she conducted an autorotation. The helicopter landed hard in a soybean field, and remained upright. The engine continued to run after touchdown, and the pilot shut it down using normal shutdown procedures. PERSONNEL INFORMATION Federal Aviation Administration records indicated that the pilot held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating. She also held a senior parachute rigger certificate. Her most recent FAA third-class medical certificate was issued in April 2009. The pilot had approximately 212 total hours of fixed wing flight experience, and 64 hours of rotary-wing experience, 62 of which were in the R44. HELICOPTER INFORMATION According to FAA records, the helicopter was manufactured in 2004, and was equipped with a Lycoming IO-540 series piston engine. The helicopter was owned by a corporation, leased to a fixed-base operator (FBO) located at FDK, and rented by the pilot. According to the maintenance records, the helicopter had accrued a total time (TT) in service of 898.9 hours. The most recent 100-hour inspection was completed on May 30, 2009, when the airframe had a TT of 837.5 hours, and the engine had a TT of 899.0 hours.