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FAA investigating Las Vegas Lights’ helicopter cash drop

Updated October 2, 2019 - 11:29 pm

The Las Vegas Lights’ wildly popular helicopter cash drop stunt last month could land the aviation company behind it in hot water.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the drop Sept. 7 at the Lights game against the El Paso Locomotive.

A helicopter flown by Skyline Helicopter Tours flew above a crowd of selected Lights fans on Cashman Field and dropped $10,000 for them to collect.

Lights owner Brett Lashbrook said he and his team met with FAA officials Wednesday, and they were assured the team is not facing any repercussions, even though the helicopter pilot is.

“We met with three government officials this morning. They reiterated that we’re not under investigation, but they did have concerns with how the promotion is done,” Lashbrook said. “We talked through the safety precautions the pilot had asked us to take, and they wanted confirmation that we had done that.”

FAA regulations state that pilots must maintain minimum safe altitudes, with enough space to allow a safe emergency landing in the case of a power unit failure, without harm to people or property.

The regulations do not specify a minimum height for helicopters.

FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said anybody who violates federal aviation regulations could be required to complete corrective counseling or could have their license suspended or revoked.

Multiple attempts to reach representatives of Skyline Helicopters for comment were unsuccessful.

This is the second year the Lights have held the cash drop promotion. The team dropped $5,000 on a crowd of supporters last year.

Lashbrook said the stunt gives the team worldwide attention that it normally doesn’t receive.

“We got 52 seconds on ‘SportsCenter’ about it,” he said. “NHL can’t even get 52 seconds on ‘SportsCenter’ some nights. This was unbelievable. We had a player from Mexico that said his parents saw it on the Mexican news. My wife is originally from Russia, and her dad called saying, ‘I think Brett’s team is on the Russian national news.’ That got us so much publicity.”

Lashbrook hopes to hold the cash drop again next year, with even more money involved, but he will seek FAA approval beforehand.

“It’s hands down the greatest promotion in the history of sports,” he said. “As long as the FAA is OK with it, we will continue to do this promotion and make it bigger and better. If not, we’ll come up with another crazy and fun promotion.”

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.

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