This is just tragic.  Turns out TROY GENTRY's helicopter ride was an impromptu, spur of the moment thing.  An NTSB investigator described it to "People" as a, "Would you like to go for a helicopter ride?"

 That explains why Troy's bandmate EDDIE MONTGOMERY was not with him.  The concert was going to be AT the airport, and they had just arrived by bus when Troy accepted the invitation to go for a ride.  (Read more details about the crash, here.)

Meanwhile, the Grand Ole Opry will be celebrating Troy's life with a public ceremony on Thursday at 11:00 A.M. Central.  It'll be live streamed at Opry.com

One last thing:  JASON ALDEAN paid tribute at his show on Saturday.  He told the crowd, quote, "Troy always loved a good time, always had a smile on his face, and liked a good party . . . so here's to Troy Gentry."