Kobe Bryant's Helicopter Previously Owned by the State of Illinois and Sold for $515K at Auction
The private helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others previously belonged to the state of Illinois.
Bryant’s helicopter, a Sikorsky S-76B, was used by the state of Illinois between 2007 to 2015, according to helicopter information database Helis.
In August 2015, the aircraft was sold by the state for $515,161 in an online auction, going to a bidder identified by the username “Jimbagge1,” online records show. At the time, the helicopter, which was built in 1991, had logged 3,951 miles of airtime.
Records show that the aircraft had been registered to Island Express Holding Corp. of Van Nuys, California since September 2015.
A pilot who previously worked for Bryant also said the aircraft had a good safety record.
Ken Deetz, who flew Bryant between 2014-2016, told the Los Angeles Times that the helicopter model was a favorite among celebrities and known to be safe. The model’s strong record has been attributed to the fact that it has twin turbines, according to Business Insider.
Deetz noted that Island Express Helicopters followed a “very good maintenance program,” adding that during the time he flew Bryant, the “limo-esque” aircraft was in “fantastic” condition.
The pilot also said that the helicopter that crashed on Sunday was the same one Bryant took to attend the final game of his professional career in April 2016.
Following news of the crash, Sikorsky shared that they had been in contact with the National Transportation Safety Board and would be assisting them as they investigated the cause of the crash.
“We extend our sincerest condolences to all those affected by today’s Sikorsky S-76B accident in Calabasas, California. We have been in contact with the NTSB and stand ready to provide assistance and support to the investigative authorities and our customer,” the company wrote in a statement.
In a December 2018 interview, Bryant said that he began relying on helicopters to travel around the Los Angeles metropolitan area so he could spend more time with his four daughters, including Gianna, who was killed in Sunday’s crash.
“Traffic started getting really, really bad,” Bryant told Alex Rodriguez during a chat for the former MLB player’s Barstool Sports podcast The Corp with A-Rod and Big Cat.
“I was sitting in traffic and I wound up missing like a school play because I was sitting in traffic. … I had to figure out a way where I could still train and focus on the craft but still not compromise family time,” he said at the time. “So that’s when I looked into helicopters, to be able to get down and back in 15 minutes and that’s when it started.”