- Basketball legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, and seven other people were killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday.
- Bryant was known for using a private helicopter to get around , most recently a Sikorsky S-76B.
- The helicopter was owned and operated by a company called Island Express, FAA records show, and was previously owned by the State of Illinois.
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Basketball icon and Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, and seven other people were killed on Sunday when the helicopter they were flying in crashed in Calabasas, California.
Bryant's use of private helicopters became well known over the years, as he used them to beat Los Angeles traffic and even help teammates get to doctor appointments .
Bryant's helicopter, an Sikorsky S-76B built in 1991, was previously owned by the State of Illinois, according to data from the Federal Aviation Administration and the helicopter database Helis . The state flew the helicopter from 2007 to 2015, when it was put up for sale. It was not immediately clear who owned the helicopter prior to 2007.
In 2015, the helicopter was purchased from the state by a person named Jim Bagge , who appears to have been an executive at a company called Island Express Holding Corp, for $515,161. Bagge was an executive at Island Express Holding Corp., according to the Daily Beast .
Island Express has remained the owner and operator of the helicopter since 2015. It is not immediately clear whether Bryant leased the helicopter on a full-time basis, or chartered it as needed. It was also not immediately clear whether Island Express provided a pilot, or if Bryant hired one separately.
The S-76 is a type of helicopter that has had a relatively strong safety record since it first flew in 1977. The -B variant was first introduced in 1987 the current model, the -D, was first announced in 2005.
The S-76 was originally built "for the rigorous demands of the offshore oil and gas transportation," according to Sikorsky , bringing crews and executives to offshore platforms from the mainland. However, it's proven to be well-suited for corporate and executive transport, as well as air ambulance and even search-and-rescue service.
When the helicopter flew for Illinois, its tail number or registration was N76ILL. Following its transfer to Island Express, the registration was changed to N72EX.
Island Express, which goes by IEX Helicopters, appeared to take down its website , Twitter account, Instagram, and Facebook page on Sunday. They remained down as of this publishing on Monday.
In a statement posted to Twitter, the helicopter's manufacturer, Sikorsky, said it would work with investigators to determine the cause of the crash.
A phone operator for IEX Helicopters said that the company was working closely with the NTSB and referred other inquiries to an email address for the company. A request for comment sent to that address by Business Insider wasn't immediately returned.
- Kobe Bryant was famous for using his Sikorsky S-76 private helicopter, a type that has a strong safety record
- Kobe Bryant's helicopter crashed in foggy conditions considered so dangerous that the LAPD grounded all its flights
- Everything we know and what we don't about the fatal helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and 7 others