* Ben Orner at Capitol News Illinois has the scoop…
The luxury helicopter that crashed Sunday morning in California, killing all nine people on board including former NBA star Kobe Bryant, was once owned by the state of Illinois.
The Sikorsky S-76B helicopter was built in 1991, according to the Federal Aviation Administration’s aircraft registry. The state of Illinois used it from 2007 to 2015, according to helicopter information database Helis.
Under the direction of former Gov. Bruce Rauner, the state sold the helicopter along with four other surplus aircraft in 2015 for $2.5 million. Rauner said selling the aircraft “also avoided an additional $1 million in inspections and repairs,” according to an Associated Press story after the sales.
The winning bid for the helicopter was $515,161, placed by user “Jimbagge1,” according to a listing on the state’s online auction website, iBid. Both the aircraft and its two engines had just under 4,000 hours of airframe time when the copter was sold.
The helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant and eight others that crashed into a rugged hillside outside Los Angeles was flying in foggy conditions considered dangerous enough that local police agencies grounded their choppers. […]
Kurt Deetz, a pilot who used to fly Bryant in the chopper, said the crash was more likely caused by bad weather than engine or mechanical issues.
“The likelihood of a catastrophic twin engine failure on that aircraft — it just doesn’t happen,” he told the Los Angeles Times.