Local pilot, fiancée die in helicopter crash
An Elizabeth couple was killed during a helicopter crash near Pioche, Nev.
James (Jim) E. Robinson, 61, who was the pilot, and his fiancée, LaDonna Jean Stroud, 52, died at the scene July 29, according to the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office in Nevada.
Robinson, president of Ag-Max and St. Louis Helicopter in Sellersburg, was headed to a remote job site, the sheriff said, when the crash was reported shortly after 10 a.m.
The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board were contacted to investigate the crash.
Ryan Strohbeck, a systems engineer with Harrison REMC, said Robinson performed overhead line inspections via helicopter on the co-op’s system for many years.
“An REMC employee would fly with him, and we would look for dangers to our power lines,” Strohbeck said. “He was always a great asset with his excellent piloting skills and, most of all, his vast experience in spotting issues with power lines.”
Strohbeck recently worked with Robinson on a drone overhead line inspection project for Harrison REMC, as he extended “a hand to us in helping Harrison REMC learn of any benefits we may be able to receive from the drone perspective,” he said. “Jim’s death was a huge loss to this co-op and many others. He always tried to help in anyway he could and, most of all, was a great man. We were all very sad to learn of his passing and wish condolences to all his friends and family.”
Robinson’s company recently was awarded a patrol inspection contract with Indianapolis Power & Light.
“I flew with Jim in late June as an observer,” said Greg Wood, an engineer for IPL who inspects the high voltage transmission system in central and Southern Indiana. “Jim was the consummate pilot. He was an instructor, past FAA check pilot, heavy-lift pilot, agriculture pilot and was involved in multiple (Supplemental Type Certificates for aircraft modifications) that are widely used across the industry.
“I mentioned that I flew with Jim to another experienced patrol pilot and he said, ‘I can’t make Jim’s lunch in the world of helicopter flying.’ Jim had a keen eye for business and innovation. … Jim really loved his family and was looking forward to the future.”
Robinson also was known for providing helicopter rides at the annual Lanesville Heritage Weekend festival.
Harrison County’s John Gott, program director at Air Evac’s Paoli base, knew both Robinson, who was a former pilot for the air medical service, and Stroud, whom he hired from the emergency room at Indiana University Health Paoli Hospital as a flight nurse about 10 years ago. She worked for Air Evac three to four years, Gott recalled.
“LaDonna was a wonderful person, an exceptional nurse and a great caregiver,” he said, adding that last year she achieved another one of her goals, which was to complete her nurse practitioner degree.
Stroud, who was born in Paoli, graduated from Paoli High School in 1986 and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing in 2015. She most recently was employed as a family nurse practitioner by I.U. Health Southern Indiana Physicians.
Born in New Albany, Robinson was a 1977 graduate of Floyd Central High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering in 1981 from Purdue University.
“They were both good people,” Gott said. “They were always going on new adventures and were seeing the world together.”
Stroud’s funeral was Aug. 8 at Dillman-Scott Funeral Home in Paoli with interment in the Paoli Community Cemetery.
Robinson’s funeral was yesterday (Tuesday) at Grace Lutheran Church with burial in Kraft-Graceland Memorial Park in New Albany. Naville & Seabrook Funeral Homes in New Albany handled the arrangements.