Sad news out of Oregon: Bart Colantuono, a pilot who starred on the History Channel reality show Ax Men, has died after a tragic helicopter crash near the state's Detroit Lake on Monday, Sept. 16. He was 54 years old.
According to Portland TV station KPTV, Colantuono had been transporting logs from a cutting area to a log deck in Idanha, Ore. He was picking up another load in the National Forest when the crash occurred.
Witnesses said they heard logs fall to the ground before a rotor separated from the helicopter, which then flipped and crashed upside down. Colantuono apparently released the logs himself, suggesting he knew there was a problem. Federal aviation investigators are working to determine the cause of the crash.
Colantuono, a native of Indialantic, Fla., is described on Ax Men's website as a senior helicopter pilot with more than 15,000 flying hours under his belt. "Bart is a smart pilot who isn't afraid to take risks," his bio reads. "He's been flying for a long time and views helicopter logging as a competitive sport. He competes against himself, against the machine, and against the weather...Bart has a lot riding on his shoulders, and he believes he's ready for the challenge."
Alas, he has now taken his last flight. "We are extremely saddened to learn that a member of the Ax Men family, Bart Colantuono, passed away yesterday," a statement on the show's Facebook page read on Tuesday Sept. 17. "All of us at HISTORY and Original Productions, along with our Ax Men team, would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Bart. He was an important part of Ax Men when he appeared in Season 2 & 3 and his talents will be greatly missed."