Troy Gentry, half of the country music duo Montgomery Gentry, died September 8 in a helicopter crash in New Jersey. Now, a preliminary report released by the National Transportation Safety Board has detailed the engine failure that led to the crash that killed Gentry and the helicopter's pilot, James Evan Robinson, NJ.com reports.
According to the NTSB report, several minutes after the helicopter took off, Robinson reported that he was having trouble controlling the engine, because it had stopped responding to throttle inputs. He started to communicate with other helicopter pilots on the ground about what to do, and ultimately decided to stop the engine and try to perform an autorotation descent to landing, which is something he had done many times in the past. According to People, an autorotation is when an aircraft flies purely through air moving up its rotors.
He started the autorotation 950 feet above ground, but the rotor blades slowed down to the point where he could see the individual blades; the helicopter then fell to the ground. TMZ notes that it appears Robinson waited as long as he could to turn off the engine, so emergency vehicles could arrive, but it was too late. The plane crashed into a field off the runway.
The pilot had extensive experience and training; he had 480.9 total hours of flight experience, and 300 of those hours were on the exact make and model of the helicopter he flew that day. He had received adequate training and completed an airman competency check on April 19 in that very helicopter. The helicopter itself had been inspected on August 17.
The report confirms that Gentry had gone on the helicopter ride for "pleasure," as he was set to perform at the airport later that day with bandmate Eddie Montgomery. A memorial service will take place at the Grand Ole Opry Thursday.
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