FAA revokes pilot certificates for men involved in Red Bull plane stunt

The Federal Aviation Administration has revoked pilot certificates for two men involved in a Red Bull plane-swapping stunt that ended in a crash over the Arizona desert.

The agency announced they have fined Luke Aikins, the lead pilot, more than $4,900.

After the crash, Aikins admitted in an Instagram post that he disregarded a denial from the Federal Aviation Administration two days before the mid-air crash on April 24.

"I made the personal decision to move forward with (the) plane swap. I regret not sharing this information with my team and those who supported me," Aikins wrote.

He said he would cooperate fully with the FAA and any other regulatory agencies.

Aikins and his cousin Andy Farrington flew separate single-engine Cessna 182 airplanes up to 14,000 feet (4 kilometers) as part of a stunt to promote the energy drink company. They tried to switch planes as the aircraft descended.

One plane spun out of control and crashed near Eloy, roughly 65 miles (104 kilometers) southeast of Phoenix. The pilot was able to parachute out safely. The second pilot regained control of the other plane and landed safely.

Aikins had petitioned for an exemption from the rule that pilots must be at the helm with safety belts fastened at all times. He argued the stunt would "be in the public interest because it would promote aviation in science, technology, engineering and math."

Robert Carty, FAA deputy executive director of flight standards service, denied the exemption.

Red Bull, known for organizing wild promotional stunts, said in a statement it looks forward to continuing to work with Aikins. The company called him a "courageous, highly skilled athlete" who has been honest about his role in the incident.

Red Bull, along with Aikins and Farrington, have not responded to requests for comments.

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