Troy Gentry, who was half of the country duo Montgomery Gentry, died in a helicopter crash in Medford, New Jersey, just hours before he was supposed to take the stage in a concert on September 8. Along with Gentry, the pilot, James Evan Robinson, also died in the crash. As with plane crashes, helicopter accidents can have catastrophic consequences for the people aboard and their loved ones.
Montgomery Gentry Scheduled to Perform at Flying W Airport
The duo was to perform at the Flying W Airport and Resort in Medford, the same airport the helicopter crashed at, just hours after the tragedy unfolded.
Officials told reporters that the helicopter ride was a spur-of-the-moment decision. According to news reports, the helicopter left from Flying W Airport, but experienced a mechanical problem and attempted to return to the airport to land. Police received a call around 1:00 p.m. that a helicopter, a Schweitzer 269, was in distress. As emergency crews arrived on scene, the aircraft crashed. Although Gentry was taken from the wreckage to a local hospital, he was pronounced dead at the hospital. He was 50 years old. Robinson, who was 30 years old, died at the crash site.
Audio from emergency dispatchers indicates the pilot had difficulty controlling the aircraft engine’s RPM. Brian Rayner, who is a senior air safety investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) says Robinson “was performing an auto rotational descent to runway one,” but the helicopter landed short of runway one and suffered substantial damage, fatally injuring the two people on board.
“Shortly after our arrival, the helicopter did go down,” Medford Township Police Chief Richard Meder told reporters. “It went into a field south of the airport.”
Other members of the band were at the airport when the crash occurred.
Airport Officials Speak About Deadly New Jersey Helicopter Crash
Officials from the Flying W Airport released a statement on its website, noting that the day started off with excitement as the Montgomery Gentry bus arrived at the concert venue.
“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. Sa dly this was not to be. 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.”
The venue announced that credit card refunds would be processed during the week following the accident.
Country Rock Band Montgomery Gentry Had Numerous Hits in the 2000s
Known for their mix of country and Southern Rock, Montgomery Gentry (which Troy Gentry formed in 1999 with Eddie Montgomery) was inducted into the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame in 2015. The duo’s songs, including “If You Ever Stop Loving Me,” and “Back When I Knew It All” reached number one on the charts.
In all, the duo released 11 albums-the most recent in 2015-and had five number one songs. They opened for poet Maya Angelou when she performed at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center in 2007.
A statement was issued on Montgomery Gentry’s website confirming the crash and Gentry’s death.
“It is with great sadness that we confirm that Troy Gentry, half of the popular country duo, Montgomery Gentry, was tragically killed in a helicopter crash which took place at approximately 1:00 p.m. today in Medford, New Jersey.” The statement went on to request privacy for Gentry’s family, but noted that his family “wishes to acknowledge all of the kind thoughts and prayers.”
Gentry leaves behind two daughters, Kaylee and Taylor, and his wife, Angie McClure.
Pilot of the Schweitzer Helicopter Had License for Two Years
Robinson obtained his pilot’s license in 2015 and got his instructor’s license in January 2017. He was a commercial pilot and instructor at Helicopter Flight Services. A statement from the company remembers Robinson as loving his job as a pilot.
“It is with deep sadness that we say goodbye to our dear friend. May God Shine his light on you and keep you safe in his arms. God speed Evan, you will always be in our hearts.”
Investigation Into Gentry Helicopter Crash Under Way
Both the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are investigating what caused the tragedy. Among the issues they will look into are mechanical problems, pilot responses to those problems and other factors that may have played a part in the accident.