YouTuber Faces Federal Charges For Alleged Helicopter Stunt


YouTube personality Suk Min Choi, also known as Alex Choi, is facing federal charges after a video he allegedly directed surfaced, depicting fireworks being launched from a helicopter at a Lamborghini in a Southern California desert.

Authorities say 24-year-old Choi is being charged with causing the placement of an explosive or incendiary device on an aircraft and if convicted could face 10 years in federal prison.

According to AP, Prosecutors allege Choi’s video titled “Destroying a Lamborghini with Fireworks,” posted last July, was filmed without the proper permits or approval from the FAA.

Although the video has since been removed, authorities stated that it shows Choi pressing a “fire missiles” button while two women on board a helicopter shoot fireworks at the sports car as it speeds across a desert landscape.

Choi has gained a following of more than a million followers on Instagram and some 924,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel by filming videos of what he calls the “greatest car shenanigans.”

Officials said Choi made a court appearance on Thursday, during which a federal magistrate judge granted his release on a $50,000 bond. His arraignment is slated for July 2.

Amelia Walsh
Amelia Walsh is a private pilot who enjoys flying her family’s Columbia 350. She is based in Colorado and loves all things outdoors including skiing, hiking, and camping.


    • How about people respecting the law, rules, and regulations. If they did not post a video it might be no harm no foul, but that those involved could be emboldened to do something even riskier.

      By posting, idiots that they are thinking viewer size would save them, they do incite others to do their own stupid thing, potentially risking the public.

      Stupid is as stupid does.

  1. It seems to me the helicopter pilot and the film crew also violated various rules and regulations. The lack of permits from the Federal agency where the stunt took place is a violation by each participant. And I suspect getting a permit from the FAA for discharging fireworks at a vehicle from a helicopter at close range would have been somewhere between inconvenient and unlikely.

  2. Another “Facing up to…” crime. I’d like to see something like a max possible sentence and no plea bargains as an outcome in a case like this.

  3. I’m amazed, not by the deed, but that they did it where the FAA has jurisdiction. Not that the deed was overly intelligent, imho. Maybe he should’ve gotten permission from a local MOA and an AH-64 crew. They do that stuff all the time.

  4. I hope whatever company insures that helicopter immediately cancels the policy as well. These idiot pilots make a lot of money on clicks. Yet we all pay the tab in our insurance bill when they inevitably bend metal.

  5. “….and then we’ll post it on the internet.” Is click addiction an official medical diagnosis?

  6. “…Choi is being charged with causing the placement of an explosive or incendiary device on an aircraft…”

    …but this is okay?

    you tube – pWcw06Om3Qg

    Duplicitous much?

    • Next paragraph: “was filmed without the proper permits or approval from the FAA.”

      Obviously the performers at OSH have those permits.

  7. Seems to me the FAA has a serious issue with people making money. It sort of makes sense, but it does beg the question: Why are they not going after YouTube?

  8. if anyone wants to actually ready the actual outline of the case, just google ” 2:24-mj-03272″ which is the federal court case ID, and you can read the actual 27 page criminal complaint. The charges are :
    49 U. S.C. 46505 (b) (3) – Carrying a weapon or explosive on an aircraft
    (b)General Criminal Penalty.—An individual shall be fined under title 18, imprisoned for not more than 10 years, or both, if the individual—
    (3)has on or about the individual, or has placed, attempted to place, or attempted to have placed on that aircraft, an explosive or incendiary device.”

    AND (because he directed the act):
    18 U.S. Code § 2 – Principals
    (b)Whoever willfully causes an act to be done which if directly performed by him or another would be an offense against the United States, is punishable as a principal.

    if you read the whole complaint, the crux of the gov’t case is he didn’t get an ” approved Certificate of Waiver for Motion Filming. In order to receive such waiver, an aircraft pilot/operator must develop an acceptable operations manual for use in motion picture and television filming production. The aircraft pilot/operator must submit FAA Form 7711—2 (Certificate of Waiver or Authorization Application), and include a proposed motion picture and television operations manual, at least 45 days before actual filming begins. Further, the operator must develop safe operating procedures, guidelines and criteria to operate below the altitude required in Titie 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14CFR) part 91 91.119 (b) and 91.303, and 91.515(a).”

    basically they’ve got this guy dead to rights.

    I’m by no means a fan of sketchy criminal charges filed by Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General “agents”, but remember kids, Carl’s Rule:

    *** if you do stupid stuff that’s a federal felony and/or bust FARs, do NOT film it ,and do NOT put it on YouTube ***

    • Except that “that aircraft” in 49 U. S.C. 46505 (b) (3) refers to an aircraft operated in Air Transportation or Intrastate Air Transportation, both of which have specific definitions and neither of which seem to apply to this particular aircraft and case.

      • Not that I want to add to lawyer hours, but how did he hire the helicopter if it was not for Air Transportation hire?

      • No, the law doesn’t require this to be Air Transport.
        49 U.S.C. very first section: “49 U.S. Code § 40102 – Definitions:
        (6)“aircraft” means any contrivance invented, used, or designed to navigate, or fly in, the air.”

        The three subparagraphs [(1),(2),(3)] of 49 U. S.C. 46505(b) have the OR clause, so they are independent, and the government ONLY has to show ONE of the three, which they do. They chose (3) for their charge, which does not involve Air Transport at all:

        “(3)has on or about the individual, or has placed, attempted to place, or attempted to have placed on that aircraft, an explosive or incendiary device.”

        I think your quote “Air Transportation or Intrastate Air Transportation” is from 49 U. S.C. 46505 (b) **(1)**, but that’s irrelevant, since that was not the charge. You can go to jail for 10 years for non Air Transport explosive / incendiary devices under (b)(3)

        Not agreeing with it, just citing the law.

        • Read that paragraph really carefully. There are three different “or” statements that need to be treated separately. The first “or” statement is “when on, or attempting to get on”, the second “or” statement is “an aircraft in, or intended for operation in” and the third “or” statement is “air transportation or intrastate air transportation”. These idiots were carrying explosives on an aircraft, so they meet the definition of the first two “or” statements, but fail the third. They weren’t flying in from outside the US, they weren’t engaged in interstate air transportation because they took off and landed in the same area, and they weren’t carrying mail so they weren’t engaged in “air transportation”.

          “Intrastate air transportation” is even more specific: 49 USC § 40102(a)(27) “intrastate air transportation” means the transportation by a common carrier of passengers or property for compensation, entirely in the same State, by turbojet-powered aircraft capable of carrying at least 30 passengers.

          These kids were dumb and the PIC definitely had some judgement issues that would have tripped FAR § 91.13, but the actual charges don’t apply here. A decent lawyer who actually tries to fight this will tear this to shreds. It may not even make it to trial.

          • No
            Sorry that you are not understanding the OR conjunction. Since you mention 14 CFR Part 91, let’s look at an example since conjunctions in fed regs work the exact same way -have a look at the OR clause for § 91.17 (a) (1 through 4)
            You agree that only ONE of the four subparagraphs needs to be true to be in violation of 91.17?, and they are all independent, right?

            Or if that’s not good enough, have a look at the standard legal reference “ANTONIN SCALIA & BRYAN A. GARNER, READING LAW: THE INTERPRETATION OF LEGAL TEXTS (2012) under “Conjunctive/Disjunctive Canon”. That is what they cited as the definitive reference in last year’s SCOTUS discussion regarding another conjunction

            So again, for this case, since this says OR, only one of the three needs to be true: (1) (2) OR (3)
            it says:
            “(b)General Criminal Penalty.—An individual shall be fined under title 18, imprisoned for not more than 10 years, or both, if the individual—
            (1)”when on, or attempting to get on…” – not applicable- **IGNORE
            (2) “has placed, attempted to place….” – not applicable – **IGNORE
            ****** OR *****
            (3) has on or about the individual, or has placed, attempted to place, or attempted to have placed on that aircraft, an explosive or incendiary device. ”
            *** DING DING – APPLICABLE

            Again, we ignore (1) and (2), and only read (3). since they are independent clauses separated by “OR”, just like the above FAR reference. What you’re referring to in (1) regarding Interstate Air Transport, etc. has nothing to do with charging someone with a crime under (3) because of the “OR”.

            Likewise, the definition of “aircraft” in (3) has nothing to do with what you said it does from (1). uses the definition of aircraft given at the start of the Title 13.

        • I would agree with you, except that (3) includes “that aircraft”, which has to refer back to a previous occurrence of aircraft in the regulation. In this case, that definition is provided in (1) and nowhere else, which means that it has to have the same definition as in (1).