Country music singer Troy Gentry was tragically killed in a helicopter crash last Friday, Sept. 8. While the full report of the incident has not been released to the public, it seems possible that the crash could have been avoided altogether.
"It is the responsibility of the pilot in command (PIC) to ensure the aircraft is in an airworthy condition," the Federal Aviation Administration states.
The radio communication between emergency responders indicated that the pilot was planning to make an emergency landing and was hovering in the air while waiting for the fire department to show up, according to FOX News.
Robinson reported a stuck throttle while hovering. Because the throttle was stuck, he was unable to tilt the helicopter's rotor blades.
“The pilot controls the flight of the aircraft by tilting the rotor blades to achieve more lift (pitch)," Ed Weireter, a pilot for Rockland County Helicopter Emergency Lift Program told FireEngineering.com. "The engine operates at a constant speed. By moving the cyclic stick, which tilts the rotor disc, the pilot can direct the aircraft in any direction. The main rotor obviously moves in a circular motion, resulting in a significant amount of torque being applied, which will cause the aircraft to spin uncontrollably."
Robinson was going to report mechanical issues with the helicopter before takeoff, but it didn't stop him and Gentry from embarking on the flight. It was soon thereafter that he experienced problems with controlling the aircraft.
“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," Brian Rayner, senior air safety investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board told PEOPLE.
The pilot attempted a hard landing when the helicopter suddenly dropped to the ground.
"A couple of different responses to that challenge were discussed, and he was performing an auto rotational descent to runway one. The helicopter landed short of the runway in low brush, it was substantially damaged and the occupants were fatally injured," Rayner said.
One helicopter pilot explained to TMZ that making a hard landing often proves safer than hovering with mechanical issues because aircrafts are more vulnerable in the air. While Robinson was hoping to give time for emergency responders to show up, it's possible that if he would've gone ahead and made an attempt to land the helicopter.
Meaning, if the pilot was able to regain control of the throttle he probably would have been able to attempt a safer landing. With the stuck throttle and difficulty controlling the engine RPM, the pilot was virtually unable to successfully maneuver the helicopter and land it.
Given that the pilot is responsible to make sure the helicopter is in "airworthy condition," the best course of action would have been to postpone the flight until the mechanical issues were properly handled.
The pilot was pronounced dead at the scene. Gentry was rushed to nearby Virtua Hospital where he later passed away as a result of his injuries.
The airport where the helicopter crashed, the Flying W Airport and Resort in Medford, New Jersey, released a statement this week about the crash.
“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,” the statement read. “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 the families.”
Gentry is survived by his wife and two daughters.