Report: Helicopter pilot did not make any distress calls before fatal crash

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CALLAWAY COUNTY - The man whose helicopter crashed east of Fulton on Wednesday, Oct. 17 did not make not make any distress calls, according to a report from the National Transportation Safety Board.
Charles Prather Jr., of St. Peters, was the only person on board when the helicopter crashed, according to the Callaway County Sheriff's Office.

The NTSB report said Prather, who was working to get his helicopter license, was flying solo to the Columbia Regional Airport to practice takeoffs and landings. Prather, who had his license to fly commercial airplanes, had taken off from Moscow Mills.

The NTSB came to Callaway County last week to investigate the crash.

According to the agency's report, witnesses said the helicopter flew at a low level and appeared to be in distress. One witness saw smoke coming from the helicopter, according to the report.

Charlie Duchek , a flight instructor from the St. Louis area, said making a distress call while flying can be challenging.

"I wouldn't expect that anybody having any kind of problem in the helicopter would make a distress call," Duchek said. "Usually, your hands are so full dealing with whatever the problem is."

The NTSB said all wreckage was identified and taken to a secure facility in Fulton for further investigation.