Airport owner describes panic when helicopter pilot went missing

PATTERSON, La. (KLFY) – The body of Casey Clark, whose helicopter crashed Wednesday, was found in the Atchafalaya Basin yesterday afternoon.

Clark was a 29-year-old from Great Falls, Montana.

He was a pilot for Gulf Coast Helicopters and was living in Pearland, Texas.

“I’ve worked with [Gulf Coast Helicopters] for 20 or 25 years,” said owner of Harry P. Memorial Airport Ken Perry, “They have come through here buying fuel for their pipe line patrol aircraft. He was relatively new to here but I met him several times over the course of the last six months. He seemed like a very nice young man.”

The helicopter left the Gonzales area at around 7:30 Wednesday morning, the aircraft was scheduled to refuel in Patterson at about 12:30 that afternoon but never arrived.

“People at Gulf Coast Helicopters started calling here after lunch on Wednesday to see if he had made it here,” said Perry, “Then I received calls from Lafayette and Houma and New Orleans people, everybody trying to figure out if he was on the ground at some airport in the area. And then about 4 o’clock I received a call that the Civil Air Patrol was going to launch a mission to search for him.”

According to Perry Clark had been flying a different route the day of the crash due to the weather out in New Orleans.

“He usually refueled after he made the New Orleans leg of the run,” said Perry, “But I understand because of the weather he was going to basically run the pipe line backwards and come through here then go to New Orleans, let the weather clear up in New Orleans.”

Perry sends his thoughts and prayers to Clark’s family and friends.

“The Aviation community is very small, in the grand scheme of things there’s not a lot of us that do this,” said Perry, “We take all this very personally and I wish his family peace and I wish his family the best. I been in this a long time and it doesn’t get any easier with time and I will pray for his family.”

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