Kobe Bryant Helicopter Crash: Pilot Reportedly Broke Flight Rules On Purpose

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Kobe Bryant helicopter crash: On January 26, Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others lost their lives in a tragic helicopter crash in California.

Written By Devika Pawar | Mumbai | Updated On:
Kobe bryant helicopter crash

On January 26, Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna Bryant and 7 others lost their lives in a tragic helicopter crash in California. The girls' basketball coach Christina Mauser, Gigi's teammate Alyssa Altobelli and her parents John and Keri, Payton Chester and her mother Sarah Chester and pilot Ara Zobayan were the other victims of the tragic accident. The National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) recently released their preliminary report of the tragedy. According to NTSB, the helicopter showed no sign of engine failure. The helicopter was also reportedly around 100 feet away from clear skies.

Also read | Kobe Bryant helicopter crash: No sign of engine failure in Kobe Bryant helicopter crash, says NTSB

Kobe Bryant helicopter crash: Kobe Bryant pilot deliberately overlooked flight rules

As previously reported, Kobe Bryant’s pilot Ara Zobayan was trying to climb up while he was around 100 feet above the ground. Zobayan was allowed to fly below the flight following radar by the FAA regulations. As per the rules, he would stay legal as long as he could see half a mile and stayed away from the cloud. However, Ara Zobayan decided to climb a higher altitude so he could see better. He would have been at 4000 feet, comfortably above the clouds at 2400 feet.

The problem, however, was climbing 500 vertical feet of clouds. According to experts, it is ‘deliberately’ breaking Visual Flight Rules. It is illegal to fly up to a cloud layer is because of high possibility of a disaster, which is what happened. Without reference to the ground, the pilot can become disoriented, lose track of their way up and end up crashing. News reports also reveal that nine months ago, Ara Zobayan had received proficiency training in ‘inadvertent entry into instrument meteorological conditions and unusual attitude recovery’, which was the exact cause of the helicopter’s crash.

Also read | Kobe Bryant helicopter crash: Remains of Kobe, Gianna Bryant and other victims released to families after examination

Kobe Bryant helicopter crash: Remains released to Kobe, Gianna Bryant and other victims’ families after examination

According to Los Angeles County coroner’s office, all remains were released to the families as of Monday. Previously, Kobe Bryant's body along with three others (Ara Zobayan, John Altobelli and Sarah Chester) were identified. National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) examined the bodies before releasing them. 

Kobe Bryant helicopter crash: Pictures taken show low visibility due to bad weather

Kobe Bryant helicopter crash: Kobe Bryant pilot communicated with Air Traffic Control (ATC) before the crash

According to ESPN, the pilot contacted ATC before the crash, informing that the helicopter had begun ascension. ATC, however, told the pilot that they were too low for flight following and hence could not be picked up by the radar. Recent reports confirm that the pilot had received permission to fly below the usual level due to bad weather conditions. After the communication ended, no distress call was received. The helicopter had been cleared for flight and took off from the John Wayne airport at 9:06 AM on Sunday. They flew from Boyle Heights and circled Glendale before reaching the crash destination. 

Also read | Kobe Bryant helicopter crash: Kobe, Gianna Bryant and other victims bodies identified

Kobe Bryant helicopter crash site

According to the LA County Fire Chief Daryl Osby, the fire had spread a quarter of an acre. Jennifer Homendy, a National Transport Safety Board member, stated that pieces of the helicopter were scattered across 600 feet. One of the hills had an impact area. The tail was down on the left, the fuselage was on the other side and the main rotor ended up a hundred yards beyond the scene. 

Also read | Kobe Bryant helicopter crash: Three bodies recovered from Kobe and Gianna Bryant crash site

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