The pilots of two planes attempted to swap places mid-flight, leaving both aircraft unmanned for a period of time, and one of the planes crashed, although both pilots were unharmed.

The FAA said it rejected a waiver of laws requiring pilots to man their planes at all times, according to a denial later from the FAA dated Friday — days ahead of Sunday’s crash.

The pilots, Luke Aikens and Andy Farrington, applied for the waiver saying that the event was in the “public interest” as it was meant to raise awareness for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields and encourage students to pursue careers in STEM.

In its rejection letter, the FAA said that “would not be in the public interest and cannot find that the proposed operation would not adversely affect safety.”

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