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'Attentive and conscientious' pilot frequently rented helicopter before deadly crash, company official says

A pilot who died in a helicopter crash in the Chesapeake Bay Saturday was remembered this week as an “attentive and conscientious” flyer by those who taught him how to navigate the skies.

Officials responded Saturday around 12:30 p.m to a report of a downed helicopter just south of the lighthouse near Bloody Point, which is off of Kent Island and home to the deepest part of the Chesapeake Bay. The bodies of pilot, Charles Knight, 38, of Mount Airy, and passenger, Matt Clarke, 36 of Pasadena, were recovered around 6 p.m. from the wreckage, found in about 55 feet of water. The cause of the crash is under investigation.

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Knight’s family could not be reached for comment Monday. A relative of Clarke’s declined to comment Saturday.

News of the crash shocked the staff of Monumental Helicopters, a Tipton-based company that rented the helicopter to Knight on Saturday around 11:30 a.m. Knight had graduated from Monumental’s pilot training program about a year ago and was a familiar face in the tight-knit flying community, said company spokesman Seth Clute.

“We’re dealing with a lot of emotions, a lot of questions that are unanswered,” Clute said. “We’re very interested and invested in finding out what happened. We just don’t know, and that may be one of the worst parts about it.”

Knight did not share any details about the nature of the trip before he took off Saturday, but Clute said he rented the company’s bright yellow Cabri G2.

Monumental owners bought the Cabri G2 model in 2017 for $415,000 and named it the “Bee.” The tiny two-person helicopter was purchased specifically for use in the company’s flight school because of its higher weight capacity, the Capital Gazette reported at the time.

Knight, who was known as a frequent flyer at Monumental, rented the “Bee” several times a month, including the weekend before the crash, Clute said.

Company officials have been in contact with investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration, said Clute, adding he is eager to figure out what went wrong.

“A loss like this deeply affects all of us,” Clute said.

Coast Guard officials ask that if anyone saw anything in the vicinity south of Kent Island, that they contact the Sector Maryland-National Capital Region at 410-576-2525 or on VHF-FM Channel 16.

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