At 3:42 PM on September 17, residents of Detroit, Oregon reported a helicopter crash near a logging site. “It had just returned after the pilot had taken a 45 minute break. The helicopter had picked up a load when witnesses reported hearing a loud snapping sound, which was followed by logs hitting the ground,” reported Linn County Sheriff Tim Mueller.
Witnesses then say that a rotor was seen flying from the helicopter, shortly before the helicopter flipped upside down and crashed into the ground.
The pilot of said helicopter was William Bart Colantuono, a pilot for the popular TV series "Ax Men" on the History Channel during its 2nd and 3rd seasons. Colantuono was a pilot for R&R Conner Aviation,a family-owned and operated utility aviation service based out of Montana. According to their company website, Colantuono was "a veteran of the US Navy where he got his helicopter training," and since his time in the Navy, had "accumulated 25 years of utility helicopter experience."
Witnesses to the accident say that the helicopter manually dropped the logs before its crash, hinting that the pilot knew something was wrong before the crash occurred.
The History Channel described Colantuono as "a smart pilot who isn’t afraid to take risks. He’s been flying for long time and views helicopter logging as a competitive sport. He competes against himself, against the machine and against the weather. At the end of each day, the amount of logs left up on the landing tells him if he’s won or lost. Bart has a lot riding on is shoulders, and he believes he’s ready for the challenge."
Colantuono was 54 years old, had 4 children, and was engaged to be married. He was also the author of the book Helilogging in a Sucker Hole , a fictional suspense-thriller novel about a heli-logger in Montana.
Image via YouTube