Logan County helicopter crash victim called Huey Reunion “the greatest event on Earth”

LOGAN, W.Va. — Mingo County native John Nagle returned home to West Virginia this week to fly Huey helicopters in Logan, but a flight he was on was cut short when he and five others crashed into a two lane road and died.

It’s unclear if Nagle was the pilot operating the Vietnam era Bell UH-1B that went down Wednesday afternoon on state Route 17 in the Kelly Mountain area, but Nagle’s friends confirmed to MetroNews Friday he was on that flight.

Pepper Looney

“He loved flying those old vets around. That was definitely a soft place in his heart,” Nagle’s friend and coworker Pepper Looney told MetroNews in a phone interview Friday.

The aircraft was part of this week’s Huey Reunion happening at the Logan Airport sponsored by Marpat Aviation. The reunion offers tourist rides.

Investigators said the flight was the final planned flight of the day. The helicopter’s flight path was different from the tour paths offered earlier in the day.

Authorities have not released the names of the victims, but social media posts offer condolences to Nagle’s family for his tragic passing. Looney posted on Facebook Thursday morning “my heart is broken” and that Nagle “loved the old military vets who were on their last ride.”

“John is such a good, kind individual. He loved to talk, so he would listen to their stories and shared his experiences with them. That just lit him up,” Looney said.

Looney worked with Nagle at Fusion Constructive, LLC, a military software company based in Austin, Tx. Nagle lived in Texas at the time and was originally from Gilbert, W.Va.

Nagle was passionate about flying and was in the process of helping Looney find a plane to finish her pilot’s license.

“I just celebrated my 60th birthday and I was thinking about finishing my pilot’s license. He was pushing me and was so excited about that,” she said.

On Tuesday, Nagle posted Facebook photo of he and another pilot up in the air during the Huey Reunion, which is in its 7th year.

Looney saw Nagle a week ago last Friday before he left for his trip to West Virginia.

Earlier this year, Nagle expressed excitement about the upcoming event and wrote in a February Facebook post “We’re rounding the bend and getting closer to summer and that can only mean one thing: the annual Huey Reunion in Logan WV…a little event I like to call “the greatest event on Earth”, a.k.a. “helicopter camp for grown-ups”.

Looney said Nagle died doing what he loved most. Nagle was a husband and father of two step-sons and a daughter.

“It’s just been really hard for them to realize there’s no more John,” she said.

He was not a veteran, but Looney said he loved military aircraft and providing support to those who have served our country.

Looney said in addition to having a wealth of knowledge about aviation, he also had the kindest heart. She said he was a “careful pilot.”

“He’s not one that would ever take any risks,” she said.

Looney said she heard of Nagle’s death through company executives. Nagle’s step-son also works for the same company.

Nagle’s oldest son is following in his father’s footsteps and recently became a flight instructor. He just gave Nagle a ride.

“John’s log book was the first one with the son had signed off on in his new career as a flight instructor,” Looney said.

The Federation Aviation Administration said the tail number on the helicopter that crashed is registered to Gordon Prescott, of Princeton. The helicopter was built in 1962.

The National Transportation Safety Board has sent a five-member team to Logan County to investigate the cause of the crash. Investigators said a pilot and five passengers were on board and described two of the passengers as “pilot-rated.”

A preliminary report is expected to be released in the next few weeks.

NTSB officials said friends and family members of the crash victims can receive support services from NTSB family assistance and Red Cross at Logan County Airport Friday.

Back home in Texas, Looney said she can’t help but think of Nagle every time she hears a plane fly overhead.

“I live near the little airport where he flew out of sometimes and I hear small aircraft going over and I think of John every single time,” she said. “That’s John’s legacy is little planes in the air.”

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