Helicopter Crash Near Detroit Claims Life of Ax Men Pilot

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Crashed helicopter, piloted by Bart Colantuono -a member of the R&R Conner Aviation crew on History Channel's reality series, took the life of pilot near Detroit, Oregon, September 16, 2013. Photo provided by Linn County Sheriff's office.

Crashed helicopter, piloted by Bart Colantuono -a member of the R&R Conner Aviation crew on History Channel’s reality series “Ax Men”, took the life of pilot near Detroit, Oregon, September 16, 2013. Photo provided by Linn County Sheriff’s office.

Linn County Sheriff Tim Mueller reports on Monday, September 16, 2013 at 3:42 P.M., the Linn County Sheriff’s Office was notified of a helicopter crash near Blowout Road near Detroit. The incident occurred at a logging site on National Forest land, near Forest Service Road 1003, approximately two miles from Highway 22.

Witnesses of the crash gave deputies the following account: The helicopter, a 1962 Bell UH1B, was being used to transport logs from the cutting area to a log deck in Idanha. 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 and it appeared the pilot had released the logs electronically, indicating the pilot knew of a problem prior to the crash. Witnesses then saw a rotor separate from the helicopter followed by it turning upside down and falling to the ground.

The pilot, William Bart Colantuono, 54, of Indialantic, Florida was pronounced dead at the scene. He was the sole occupant of the aircraft. The helicopter is owned by Umatilla Lift Services, also from Indialantic, Florida. Umatilla Lift Services was subcontracted by R&R Conner Aviation from Darby, Montana to fly logs from the logging site for Freres Lumber Company in Mill City.

Helicopter Pilot, Bart Colantuono, a member of the R&R Conner Aviation crew on History Channel's reality series, "Ax Men" died in a helicopter crash near Detroit, Oregon, September 16, 2013. Photo from online biography.

Helicopter Pilot, Bart Colantuono, a member of the R&R Conner Aviation crew on History Channel’s reality series, “Ax Men” died in a helicopter crash near Detroit, Oregon, September 16, 2013. Photo from online biography.

Linn County Deputies, U.S. Forest Service personnel, Detroit and Gates Fire Departments, along with medics from the Lyons Fire Department assisted on the scene with the investigation. The Federal Aviation Administration, National Transportation Safety Board, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration have been notified. The investigation is continuing. The helicopter has not been removed from the scene and the FAA will inspect it on Tuesday.

The deceased was taken to Weddle Funeral Home in Stayton pending further arrangements.

According to his online bio, Bart Colantuono was a member of the R&R Conner Aviation crew on History Channel’s reality series, “Ax Men.”

Colantuono joined R&R Aviation as their senior helicopter pilot in “Ax Men’s” third season. From his bio: “With more than 15,000 flying hours under his belt, Bart will be a key factor in getting R&R back to the place it was nine months ago—making money logging. Bart will also determine the fate of junior pilot Steve Smith’s future with R&R. Smith’s hard landing forced the company to shut down last December and now owner has what it takes. Bart is 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.”