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FAA investigates Las Vegas Lights' $10K Cash Drop stunt

Posted at 7:38 PM, Oct 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-03 02:26:50-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — A Las Vegas company involved in a halftime stunt where $10,000 worth of cash and prizes falls from the sky for eager sports fans to collect may end up paying more than it bargained for.

On Sept. 7, the Las Vegas Lights had their second annual Helicopter Cash Drop during halftime. Despite being wildly popular with fans, the Federal Aviation Administration is now investigating.

The FAA is looking into the possibility of at least two violations, including reckless operation and not maintaining a safe altitude.

“These regulations have been developed over decades and most of the time they've been developed through some type of disaster, so they are there for a reason,” says Chris Walach.

Aviation expert Chris Walach of the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems knows the dangers of pulling off a drop from a chopper.

“A drop is probably one of the most complex that a pilot can operate,” says Walach.

While the details of the investigation have not yet been released, Walach says there's a lot to piece together -- including whether or not the helicopter was in proper contact with air traffic control, and whether the helicopter was in an area safe enough to conduct the drop.

“When you drop below a certain altitude, particularly in a congested environment like Las Vegas, there's all kinds of power lines, telephone poles, things like that,” says Walach.

“There's procedure where they aren't allowed to go below 1,000 feet in congested area within 2,000 feet of a structure or people."

The FAA also tells 13 Action News the same drop, pulled off in 2018, was also investigated.

The pilot of that helicopter was required to complete remedial training to ensure that they fully understood regulations and would comply with them in the future.

However, the pilot involved in this year's incident was not the same as last years.