The helicopter ride that ultimately lead to death of country singer Troy Gentry last week was a “spur of the moment” trip, a federal investigator says. Gentry – one half of duo Montgomery Gentry – was confirmed dead at age 50 on Friday by the band, who said that full details of the New Jersey crash were unknown at the time. The star was scheduled to perform with bandmate Eddie Montgomery at the Flying W Airport and Resort in Medford on Friday evening, and the concert was canceled immediately.
Brian Rayner, senior air safety investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, says that Gentry’s helicopter ride in a Schweitzer 269 Charlie 1 aircraft is being preliminarily described as “impromptu, spur of the moment.” Says Rayner, “[It was a] ‘Would you like to go for a helicopter ride?’” “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,” says Rayner. “A couple of different responses to that challenge were discussed, and he was performing an auto rotational descent to runway one.” Continues Rayner, “The helicopter landed short of the runway in low brush, it was substantially damaged and the occupants were fatally injured.” According to NJ.com, pilot James Evan Robinson was pronounced dead on the scene. Gentry was taken to nearby Virtua Hospital, where he later succumbed to his injuries. Rayner says that a preliminary report explaining full details of the crash will be released to the public early next week. A full, factual report – which can take up to or longer than a year to compile – will then be completed and reviewed by a NTSB board. Finally, a final report will then be released, providing a statement of probable cause.