WASHINGTON, D.C. (WKYT) - The pilot at the helm of the helicopter that crash and killed country singer Troy Gentry was attempting to land using an emergency maneuver "which was a familiar procedure he had performed numerous times in the past," according to the National Transportation Safety Board.
On Wednesday, the NTSB published its preliminary report into Friday's fatal crash in Medford, New Jersey. The report reveals the helicopter passed safety inspections just three weeks before the crash.
Gentry, a Lexington native who climbed to fame with bandmate Eddie Montgomery, was on a sightseeing flight at the Flying W Airport. The country duo was scheduled to perform at a concert at the airport later that evening.
Several minutes after taking off, pilot James Evan Robinson reported he was "unable to control engine epm with throttle inputs" and communicated with ground crews about "potential courses of action."
After talking with the helicopter owner's flight instructor and another certified helicopter flight instructor, Robinson decided to stop the helicopter's engine at 950 feet above the ground and perform an autorotation which investigators say he had performed numerous times before.
The NTSB's preliminary report says during the helicopter's descent its rotors moved so slowly the instructor could see each one and a high-pitched "whine" could be heard before it crashed short of a runway.
Robinson, who logged 480.9 total hours of flight experience, spent the majority of his experience in the same helicopter make and model of the one that crashed. Training records indicated the pilot had received the training required by the operator for employment as a flight instructor, and his last airman competency check was completed satisfactorily on April 19, 2017, in the accident helicopter, according to the NTSB.
According to FAA records, the helicopter was manufactured in 2000 and had accrued approximately 7,900 total aircraft hours. Its most recent 100-hour inspection was completed August 17, 2017, at 7,884 total aircraft hours.
Gentry was born April 5, 1967, in Lexington, where he met bandmate Eddie Montgomery and formed a group based on their last names.
The duo had success on the country charts, scoring five No. 1 hits. The band was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 2009.