New details have emerged on the helicopter crash that killed country star Troy Gentry of Montgomery Gentry and the pilot. The helicopter had an engine control problem that prompted the pilot to attempt an emergency landing by shutting down the engine, according to a preliminary report released Wednesday by the National Transportation Safety Board.
NJ.com reports that the pilot communicated via radio with other helicopter pilots on the ground at Medford's Flying W Airport in New Jersey about his shut-down maneuver, called autorotation, before he turned off the engine at 950 feet. But the helicopter blades slowed down quickly, nearly stopping, before the helicopter disappeared from view by the other pilots. The helicopter then crashed in a wooded area off the runway, says the NTSB.
Police got a call at about 1 p.m. Friday that the helicopter was in distress. The aircraft crashed as emergency crews arrived at the scene.
Crews removed Gentry, 50, from the wreckage, but he was pronounced dead at Virtua Hospital. Crews worked for hours to recover the body of the pilot, James Evan Robinson, from the wreckage.
Gentry was reportedly on the flight to sightsee, and had a performance scheduled that evening.
Robinson reported mechanical problems shortly after taking off, and flight instructors at the airport monitored the scene from on the ground and talked about Robinson's options for handling the mechanical issues, NJ.com reported.
The helicopter had reportedly passed a 100-hour inspection as recently as Aug. 17. Robinson had flown the aircraft safely earlier that day.
Gentry was married and had two daughters. He was born in Lexington, Kentucky, where he met Eddie Montgomery and they formed an act that shared their surnames.
Montgomery Gentry had success on the country charts and country radio in the 2000s, scoring No. 1 hits with "Roll With Me," ''Back When I Knew It All," ''Lucky Man," ''Something to Be Proud Of" and "If You Ever Stop Loving Me." Some of the songs even cracked the Top 40 on the pop charts.
The band mixed country music with Southern rock. It was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 2009. It released its debut album, "Tattoos & Scars," in 1999.