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Hangars

Cars pass through gates west of Billings Logan International Airport near several hangars.

A pilot who died Wednesday after crashing his helicopter into a hangar west of the Billings Logan International Airport has been identified as Robert Larry Coons of Billings, according to the Yellowstone County coroner's office.

Coons, 74, died from multiple blunt force trauma and is not believed to have suffered any medical emergency prior to crashing the experimental helicopter, deputy coroner Rich Hoffman said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The crash was reported at 12:43 p.m., but information about what led up to the incident was limited due to a lack of witnesses, airport director Kevin Ploehn said Wednesday. The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash.

"Someone that was up in their hangar heard it, eventually went around the corner and saw it," Ploehn added in an interview. The pilot was not in communication with air traffic control at the time, he said.

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Gazette balloon

Larry Coons flew the Billings Gazette's hot air balloon in 1994.

The aircraft was an "experimental RW-1 helicopter," said Allen Kenitzer, a communications official with the FAA's Northwest Mountain Region.

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The hangar was unoccupied at the time of the crash and airport officials are unsure whether the hangar belonged to the pilot, Ploehn said. No one else was injured in the crash.

Coons, who was known mostly by his middle name, was a longtime pilot in the Billings area, including a stint in the 1990s for the Billings Gazette as the pilot of its hot air balloon.

He served as a U.S. Navy pilot in the same squadron as his brother, according to a 2015 story in the Bismarck Tribune.

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