Stand up for the facts!

Our only agenda is to publish the truth so you can be an informed participant in democracy.
We need your help.

More Info

I would like to contribute

Sofia Ahmed
By Sofia Ahmed February 16, 2024

Weather conditions, not Joe Biden, linked to helicopter crash that killed Nigerian banker

If Your Time is short

  • Poor weather conditions, including rain and snow, could have caused the Feb. 11 helicopter crash that killed six Nigerians who were headed to the Super Bowl, aviation experts told The Associated Press.  

  • Orbic Air, which chartered the helicopter, had previous safety issues, a lawsuit says.

  •  Learn more about PolitiFact’s fact-checking process and rating system.

Last week, after the chief executive of one of Nigeria’s largest banks died in a helicopter crash en route to the Super Bowl, social media users claimed that President Joe Biden planned the accident to destabilize the global economy and help him win the 2024 presidential election. 

In a Feb. 15 Instagram video, a woman says, "I find it very weird that no one is talking about how there were six Nigerian billionaires who died in a plane crash mysteriously while on their way to the Super Bowl and how Biden just posted this cryptic a — message right after they died. Authorities are investigating it, which means to me they may suspect foul play." The post’s caption says, "This young woman is referring to the real meaning behind Joe Biden’s cryptic tweet after the Super Bowl."

In a Feb. 12 Instagram video, a man suggests that Biden orchestrated the accident to create a financial crisis leading up to the 2024 election, pointing to what he says are a series of similarities when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out before the 2020 election. 

Both posts refer to a Feb. 11 tweet from Biden’s official X account that shows the president with glowing red eyes and includes the caption, "Just like we drew it up." The image was a joke and referred to a conspiracy theory that the Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl win was planned so Taylor Swift, the girlfriend of Chiefs player Travis Kelce, could endorse Biden for the 2024 presidency. 

Aviation experts told news outlets that poor weather — not Biden — likely was to blame for the fatal helicopter crash. 

The Associated Press reported that on Feb. 9, Herbert Wigwe, the CEO of Access Bank in Nigeria, his wife and son, two pilots and the former chair of the Nigerian stock exchange, died in a helicopter crash in Southern California’s Mojave Desert. The plane’s destination was Boulder City, Nevada, 26 miles southeast of Las Vegas, where Super Bowl LVIII was played Feb. 11.

Featured Fact-check

An accident investigation is ongoing, but aviation experts told AP that the flight should have been canceled because of poor nighttime weather conditions in the desert. A mix of rain and snow during the flight could have led to low visibility, and there are few lights in the Mojave Desert. 

"If I were in charge, I certainly would have said ‘No, thank you’" to flying, aviation safety consultant Pete Field told AP. 

Gary Hufbauer, a Peterson Institute for International Economics economist, said the claim that the helicopter accident was planned to create a global financial crisis is "bizarre." The Nigerian CEO’s death would not affect the global economy, he said.  

Wigwe and his associates were flying in a helicopter privately chartered by Orbic Air. Harvard University Risk and Audit Services found that flying on a chartered aircraft is more dangerous than flying on a commercial aircraft because charter operators are less regulated. 

In 2013, a lawsuit was filed against Orbic Air, claiming one of its helicopters was negligently operated after a man died in a crash, CBS reported at the time.

We rate the claim that Biden’s tweet is proof that a helicopter crash that killed six Nigerian billionaires was planned by Biden Pants on Fire!  

Our Sources

Instagram post (archived), Feb. 12, 2024

Instagram post (archived), Feb. 12, 2024

The Associated Press, Nigeria mourns as authorities investigate helicopter crash that killed a major bank CEO, Feb. 11, 2024

The Associated Press, Dark skies, bad weather could have led to fatal California helicopter crash that killed 6, Feb. 14, 2024

The Associated Press, 5 Marines killed in helicopter crash identified as troops in their 20s, Feb. 9, 2024

Email interview with Gary Hufbauer, economist at Peterson Institute for International Economics, Feb. 15, 2024

Harvard University Risk Management & Audit Services, Chartered & Private Aircraft, accessed Feb. 15, 2024

CBS News, Suit Filed Over Helicopter Crash That Killed 3 In Action, May 30, 2013

Joe Biden X post (archived), Feb. 11, 2024

PolitiFact, Taylor Swift: Singer, songwriter, psyop? How conservative pundits spread a wild theory, Feb. 2, 2024

TikTok post (archived), Feb. 11, 2024

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Sofia Ahmed

Weather conditions, not Joe Biden, linked to helicopter crash that killed Nigerian banker

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up