In a preliminary accident report from the National Transportation Safety Board, the pilot of the helicopter "was unable to control engine RPM with throttle inputs," TMZ reports. This means that the pilot lost control of the aircraft as it would not respond to throttle adjustments.
The pilot of the Schweitzer 269 Charlie I aircraft, James Evan Robinson, made the decision to stop the engine and perform an autorotation. Robinson had performed this maneuver in the past.
In an autorotation, the main rotor is supposed to turn even without power. This allows the helicopter to essentially glide to the ground.
The pilot was told to
At 950 feet above the ground, the pilot began the autorotation. The RPM "decayed" so much so that Robinson could see the individual rotor blades.
The helicopter then fell to the ground. As it crashed, there was a high-pitched whining sound.
Based on the NTSB report, the pilot attempted to hover until the emergency vehicles arrived below him. However, the situation became so desperate that he turned off the engine and attempted the autorotation.
The NTSB reports that Gentry was only aboard the helicopter for pleasure.
The Flying W Airport 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.