Lawrence said the company would mourn Denning's death as “a member of our extended family.”
Lawrence asked employees to reflect on the helicopter transport teams with whom they work.
“There is always an element of risk in what they do, but they knowingly accept that reality and in return save countless lives,” Lawrence said. “They should be applauded for their bravery and skill.”
Montgomery retired from the Oklahoma National Guard in March 2011 as a chief warrant officer after serving for more than 20 years. He spent most of his National Guard career as a pilot in the Counterdrug Aviation Unit, said Lt. Col. Max Moss, Oklahoma National Guard spokesman.
Montgomery enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1983 and served as an enlisted soldier until he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1991. He became a warrant officer in 1996.
Col. Jon Harrison, the Oklahoma National Guard state aviation officer, knew Montgomery professionally for more than a decade. Montgomery was a passionate, proficient pilot, Harrison said.
Local, state and federal officials tended to like flying on counterdrug missions with Montgomery, Harrison said. Montgomery was adept at spotting illegal marijuana fields from the air, so those flights tended to be productive, he said.
“I would say he was one that was passionate about flying,” Harrison said. “He was definitely an outstanding pilot.”
This is the second fatal crash involving an EagleMed helicopter in Oklahoma. On July 22, 2010, one of the company's helicopters crashed and burned near Kingfisher.
The pilot and a flight nurse were killed, and a second nurse was seriously injured.
That helicopter left Integris Baptist Medical Center and was on the way to pick up a patient in Okeene when it crashed, according to a National Transportation Safety Board report. That helicopter was a Eurocopter AS 350, similar to the one that crashed Friday.
Another EagleMed Eurocopter AS 350 made a hard landing Feb. 29, 2012, damaging the tail boom and part of the fuselage. That accident occurred while an FAA check pilot was giving the EagleMed pilot a night vision goggle check flight. The check pilot continued the flight after the hard landing.
Contributing: Staff writers Adam Kemp, Joey Stipek and
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