Last updated 7/1/2019 at 9:32am
Coachella Valley-based touring company, Joiride, filed for Chapter 7 liquidation May 24, reporting more than $28 million in debt and only $2,025 in office furniture and cash as assets.
Joiride, previously named Big Blue Air Helicopters Inc., flew tours and chartered flights over local landmarks like the Salton Sea and the San Andreas Fault.
The vast majority of the company’s reported debts – more than $27.35 million – are contingent claims related to a pending personal injury lawsuit brought by two men who were passengers during the “precautionary landing” of a Joiride helicopter on April 30.
Two of the four passengers, Michael Evans and John Talma, are suing the company and Joiride owner Christopher Cheek for negligence and personal injury in January 2019, after the chopper they were on, landed and rolled over on its side during a flight from the Rams Hill Golf Course to Palm Springs. This caused the duo high medical bills and inflicting “emotional distress, pain and suffering.”
Joiride’s bankruptcy attorneys, Jenny Doling and Summer Shaw of Palm Desert-based Doling Shaw & Hanover APC, as well as Shalem Massey with Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, which is representing Joiride in the personal injury lawsuit, could not be reached for comment.
In 2017, Joiride’s customers were valley residents looking for a lift to out-of-town golf courses, medical appointments and shopping trips, or flying to getaways in San Diego, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
At the time, tours around the Coachella Valley ranged from $65 to $475 per person, with AC and an in-flight menu of beer, wine and food available. The business owned one helicopter and planned to buy a second.
An August 2018 press release from the company, then called Big Blue Air Inc., said its helicopters could tour visitors over the wind turbines of Palm Springs and between Palm Springs and the edge of Joshua Tree National Park.
According to bankruptcy filings, Talma has a $10.9 million claim against Joiride, and Evans has a $16.4 million claim against the company.
Both claims are listed as contingent, unliquidated and disputed — meaning Joiride may be indebted to the men for some to-be-determined sum depending on what happens in the future.
According to bankruptcy documents, Joiride ended 2018 with $203,000 in revenue, but only earned $11,500 from the beginning of 2019 through the date of its bankruptcy filing.
Court filings say creditors have repossessed a Joiride helicopter, as well as a Federal Aviation Administration certificate belonging to the company.