Country Star Troy Gentry’s Fatal Helicopter Crash Caused by Engine Control Issues

The NTSB’s preliminary report revealed the pilot flew the Schweizer 269 safely earlier the same day.

troy gentry crash
Eddie Montgomery (left) and Troy Gentry on tour in June.Montgomery Gentry

On Friday, September 8, country music star Troy Gentry of Montgomery Gentry passed away at a hospital following a helicopter crash at the Flying W Airport in Medford, New Jersey. The pilot of the Schweizer 269, 30-year-old James Evan Robinson, was also killed in the crash, after he tried to perform an emergency landing.

On Wednesday, the NTSB released a preliminary report, citing an engine control problem as the cause of the crash.

Montgomery Gentry was scheduled to perform at the airport and resort that evening, and so the 50-year-old Gentry accepted the sightseeing flight as an "impromptu, spur of the moment" offer from Robinson, according to People magazine. However, shortly after taking off, Robinson reported problems with the engine and so he considered his emergency landing options by radio with two flight instructors on the ground, according to the report.

"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, a senior air safety investigator with the NTSB, told People. "A couple of different responses to that challenge were discussed, and he was performing an autorotational descent to runway one."

Robinson cut the engine's power at 950 feet, after hovering "for several minutes" as he and Gentry waited for emergency services to arrive. But the blades slowed too quickly and the helicopter crashed approximately 220 feet from the runway. Robinson had flown the Schweizer 269 for more than an hour earlier that day, and the aircraft had reportedly passed a 100-hour inspection on August 17.

Investigations by the NTSB and FAA are ongoing.

On Saturday, Flying W officials issued a statement on Facebook. "Yesterday the day started with such excitement as the Montgomery Gentry bus rolled through our gates," it read. "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. 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 their families.”

A service was held for Gentry at the Grand Ole Opry on Thursday. Helicopter Flight Services, which operated the helicopter involved in the crash, has paid tribute to Robinson in several social media posts.