CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - After a helicopter crash near Kansas City, investigators think it might have been due to the pilot texting while flying.
The National Transportation Safety Board investigators concluded pilot James Fruedenberg was distracted by text messages in flight and during pre-flight checks, and didn't notice the plane was low on fuel.
Paul Salmon a pilot and flight instructor with Cape Copters in Cape Girardeau said each flight starts with a check list.
"One of the things that we look at during that is how much fuel we have on board the aircraft," said Salmon.
A lot of helicopters have a low fuel level light that comes on with 20 minutes of fuel left, according to Salmon.
"In case you do run low on fuel and you haven't paid attention to the gage," said Salmon.
Salmon's helicopter has a 10 minute level light.
"If you're going from point A to point B you're supposed to have enough fuel to reach your destination and an additional 20 minutes worth of fuel," said Salmon.
The fuel level is just one of the things helicopter pilots have to monitor.
"When you're flying the aircraft, you're using a constant scan of the gauges, including the oil temperature the oil pressure," said Salmon.
Salmon said helicopter pilots have to be focused in the air.
"A helicopter's an interesting beast that you have to actively have your hands on the aircraft, nearly 100 percent of the time, they're not as easy to let go of compared to an airplane," said Salmon.
He said they follow a sterile cockpit rule, which for his aircraft applies to taking off, landing and flying near the airport.
"The only conversation that goes on in the aircraft is conversation that actually concerns the operation of the aircraft," said Salmon.
So while Salmon's passenger is taking in the sights, Salmon said he's got all his attention on the gauges and where he's flying.
After taking off, some aircrafts can fly on auto pilot similar to cars can drive on cruise control. But, Salmon's helicopter is not one of those.