The helicopter pilot carrying country music singer Troy Gentry on Friday reported the aircraft experiencing mechanical problems not long before it crashed in New Jersey, killing both men.
Radio communication between emergency personnel reveals the pilot was planning an emergency landing and was hovering in their air while waiting for the fire department. But seconds later the helicopter crashed near the south of the airport, Fox News reported.
Gentry was one-half of country music duo, Montgomery Gentry. At the time, details surrounding the death were unclear, he was 50 years old when he died.
The singer was meant to perform with bandmate Eddie Montgomery at the Flying W Airport and Resort in Medford Friday evening. The concert was canceled when the news came in.
Brian Rayner, a senior air safety investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, told People Magazine that Gentry’s decision to ride the aircraft was an “impromptu, spur of the moment” decision.
- Troy Gentry and Eddie Montgomery of Montgomery Gentry attend Keith Urban’s Fourth annual We’re All For The Hall benefit concert at Bridgestone Arena on April 16, 2013, in Nashville, Tennessee. (Rick Diamond/Getty Images for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum)
Rayner told People it was a “Would you like to go for a helicopter ride?” kind of moment.
“Not long after takeoff, the pilot announced over the airport frequency—which was being monitored by a number of people—that he was having difficulty controlling engine RPM,” said Rayner. “A couple of different responses to that challenge were discussed, and he was performing an auto rotational descent to runway one.”
The pilot, James Evan Robison, was pronounced dead at the scene. Gentry, however, was taken to Virtua hospital where he later died from his injuries, according to NJ.com.
Flying W Airport & Resort made a statement in a Sept. 9 Facebook post.
“Yesterday the day started with such excitement as the Montgomery Gentry bus rolled through our gates. The nicest people got off the bus and joined us on the ramp for what we hoped would be the best concert we have ever had.”
“Sadly this was not to be. Instead, the day turned to tragedy as a helicopter accident took the lives of the pilot and Mr. Gentry. No words can describe the sadness that the Flying W employees feel for their families,” the statement said.
The resort also said they would be processing refunds to credit cards throughout the next week.
Rayner added that a preliminary report explaining the full details of the crash will be released to the public next week.