NBA star Kobe Bryant’s helicopter crash happened this Sunday morning. All those who are on board were killed in this fatal crash. To be precise, the total occupants of the helicopter were 9. The Federal Aviation Administration is already probing the crash. They are also collaborating with the National Transportation Safety Board. For those who don’t know, Kobe Bryant was a retired NBA star. The crash took place in Calabasas in California on Sunday. The helicopter in which he was flying was a Sikorsky S-76 helicopter.
Well, the Sikorsky S-76 is a hugely popular helicopter model. It owes its popularity to the superior safety features. This helicopter model also has a huge list of VIP clientele. Thus, it was quite an unexpected accident when this latest model crashed with 9 onboard. Bryant’s daughter Gianna also suffered the same fate. Interestingly, the other flyers were the members of Gianna’s basketball team and her baseball coach- John Altobelli.
As per the witnesses and records, Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter boarded Bryant’s private helicopter. They boarded the helicopter at Orange County’s John Wayne Airport on Sunday morning. It was very likely that Kobe Bryant and his family members were coming from their home in Newport Beach in Orange County. Kobe Bryant’s daughter went to the region’s private Harbor Day School.
All the people on the ill-fated flight were headed towards the Mamba Sports Academy. It is the same sports academy where Bryant used to coach his daughter. The Mamba Sports Academy is located in Thousand Oaks. There are speculations galore as the S-76 model is a pretty reliable helicopter. Bryant used to fly often in this helicopter as a way to avoid traffic. He also used the chopper to help his teammates avail appointments of doctors.
To be precise, the area where the chopper was flying on Sunday morning was covered with thick fog. The ground visibility was near zero. Hence, there is a big doubt that why the pilot chose to fly the chopper despite the presence of inclement weather conditions. In fact, the weather was so bad that the LAPD grounded all its own helicopters that morning.
As per various records and inputs, the chopper descended more than 2,000 feet a minute and was intact until its collision with the hills. Moreover, Kobe Bryant’s helicopter was soaring at 2300 feet when it lost all modes of communication. It lost all contact with the air traffic controller as per the reports gathered from the National Transportation Safety Board. As per the inputs from the relevant air traffic authorities, the pilot climbed to such an altitude to avoid the layers of the cloud. The first distress call in 911 came in two minutes later as per the accounts of Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva.
The impact of the crash was such that the parts of the helicopter were found to scattered in an area that spanned 500 to 600 feet. The NTSB has already wrapped up its recovery operations. Now, the investigators are working overtime to identify the plausible reasons behind Kobe Bryant’s helicopter crash.
As per Jennifer who also happens to be the board member of NTSB, the helicopter was not equipped with a terrain awareness system. It also didn’t have a warning system which makes the pilot aware of the terrain condition. On a further note, Jennifer also added that the NTSB had suggested that similar choppers should be equipped with warning systems following a deadly crash in Texas. This crash happened in 2004 and also killed 10 people who were on board. However, the Federal Aviation Authorities failed to implement these safety procedures in all choppers.
She also said that the chopper missed clearing a hillock by 20 to 30 feet. Moreover, as the rate of descent was quite high, Jennifer said that it was bound to be a very deadly crash. It wasn’t a normal landing speed at any cost. As per preliminary flight data, the helicopter was in one piece when it came in contact with the terrain. Well, the investigators are looking hard for clues. However, the last words of the pilots with the ATC depicted a foggy skyline.
The pilot’s name was Ara Zobayan and he said that he was climbing to avoid the thick cloud layer. But when the authorities from the ATC asked him what was the actual planning, there was no response. The visibility was so poor that the Los Angeles Police Department had decided to ground all its choppers that morning.
This Monday, investigators are trying hard to determine the exact cause of this fatal accident. They also emphasized on the probable mechanical faults in Kobe Bryant’s helicopter. Interestingly, the chopper was also not carrying a cockpit voice recorder which has worsened matters to a great extent.
Kobe Bryant’s pilot requested special permission to fly through the area where the dense fog was spotted. After the pilot requested special permission, the chopper almost circled for 12 minutes until the ATC approved SVFR clearance. Interestingly, when Kobe Bryant’s pilot was flying over the Burbank and Van Nuys airspace at 1,400 feet, he requested the ATC to provide him with radar assistance in a bid to avoid heavy congestion. But as per the latest reports of the ATC, the chopper was flying too low to avail radar assistance.
Then the pilot said that he was going to ascend to get support from ATC. The controllers at the ATC also responded positively. But they never heard back from Kobe Bryant’s pilot after that conversation. The radar data depicted that the chopper climbed 2300 feet and began a left descending turn. As per the authorities, investigations are still on to check whether Zobayan should have been granted the clearance.
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From China to Italy where Kobe Bryant spent a majority of his childhood days saw people mourning. It is indeed a great loss to the NBA fraternity. Moreover, Bryant was also active with various charities from across the world. Kobe Bryant’s helicopter crash led to his sudden death and thus a shock to many of his fans and dear ones. I just pray that his and his daughter’s soul may rest in peace!