Today is Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Chopper pilot found

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Weidner said his crews and Wilson County Emergency Management Agency crews had been searching with sonar, cameras, dogs and every available resource since the helicopter went missing Sunday, Nov. 2.

Now, he said he plans to wait to see what the Federal Aviation Administration wants to do about finding the aircraft, but he has no plans to put any more public safety divers in the water for what he sees now as a salvage operation.

According to Wilson County Sheriff Terry Ashe, Koudelka, of Lebanon, was a very skilled pilot in fixed wing craft, and was working on his certification in helicopter flight.

He was employed by Bridgestone in LaVergne for the past 20 years and lived in Mt. Juliet, near his family.

Koudelka had participated in several canine rescues, said his parents Charles and Carol Koudelka.

According to his family he had been flying since the latter 1990s and had become a very good pilot.

Chris Corley, a family friend who said he had flown with Koudelka in this same helicopter – a Robinson 44 – about two months ago, said Koudelka was actually working on instructor certification on the aircraft.

“He only had about 45 minutes of night flight left to complete his certification,” Corley said.

“The Robinson 44 is a helicopter which has been reportedly involved in several crashes in the past year,” Corley said. “Just look up the R-44 and crashes on the web and you can see.”

Koudelka’s parents said they wanted to thank all of the emergency personnel who helped with the search. They also wanted people to know that he had loved to fly ever since he started more than 10 years ago at Cornelia Fort Airport in Nashville, which was his destination on that last flight.

He also leaves a brother and sister-in-law, Jim and Diane Koudelka, also of Mt Juliet.

“He was such a good guy, he will be sadly missed by the entire Lebanon Airport community,” Corley added.

Staff Writer Connie Esh may be contacted at cewrites@wilsonpost.com

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