Kobe Bryant's Helicopter Crashed Due To Bad Weather Despite Strong Safety Record: Reports

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Kobe Bryant's helicopter Sikorsky S-76 reportedly crashed due to bad weather while the NBA legend, his daughter and six others were heading to a basketball game

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

Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven other people passed away in a tragic helicopter crash in California on Sunday. Reports have confirmed that 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 group of nine were travelling to the girls' basketball game in Thousand Oaks. 

Kobe Bryant helicopter: Sikorsky S-76's communication with the 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. 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 destinations. 

Also read | Kobe Bryant death: Kobe Bryant helicopter crash kills him and daughter Gigi

Kobe Bryant helicopter: How and when did the Sikorsky S-76 crash 

According to reports, the helicopter turned left at 9:40 AM to head southeast. However, it disappeared into the fog surrounding the area. They were flying at around 2000 level above sea level with a speed of 184 mph. While crashing, the helicopter was reportedly travelling at a speed for 45 mph which is approximately 4,000 feet per minute. The Sikorsky S-76 crashed near Las Virgenes Road and Willow Glen street in Calabasas. Locals called 911 at 9:47 AM. Responders on the scene included 56 fire personnel (firefighters, a helicopter with paramedics and hand crews) and sheriff's deputies. According to the LA County Fire Chief Daryl Osby, the fire had spread a quarter of an acre. 

Kobe Bryant helicopter: Poor weather conditions during the crash

Though the exact reason for the crash is unknown, poor weather is the likely cause. Poor visibility near the area of Burbank (north of the helicopter) and Van Nuys (northwest of the helicopter) were reported. Weather control meteorologist Heather Tesch also reported low clouds and thick fog in the area. 

Kobe Bryant helicopter: Investigation to find out the exact cause of Sikorsky S-76's crash

According to reports, the National Transport Safety Board will be assigning a Go Team to find the actual cause for the crash. A report including the highlight findings should be released in 10 days. A detailed investigation about the pilot's history, chopper maintenance and record of the owner and operator will be conducted. Reports claim that an official statement about the crash might be released after a year. 

Also read | Kobe Bryant death: NBA world's tribute to Kobe Bryant daughter and the legend passing away

Bryant's helicopter Sikorsky S-76 was made in 1991 and was one of his favoured models. Kurt Deetz, Bryant's former pilot, compared it to a limousine, saying that it was also maintained well. According to Deetz, helicopters like these have twin engines, which have an extremely low chance of crashing. 

Also read | Kobe Byrant death: Kobe Bryant daughter Gianna Bryant also killed in devastating helicopter crash

A witness who saw the helicopter before it crashed claimed that it did not sound right and was spluttering. It was also difficult to see because of the fog and was flying really low. The witness even heard a 'boom' noise and saw a big fireball. A group of mountain bikers who spotted the helicopter first alerted the authorities. 

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