The helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant and eight others fell quickly with a high energy impact, breaking the aircraft into pieces and creating a debris field stretching about 500 to 600 feet
The Death of Kobe And His daughter
On January 26, 2002, Kobe Bryant and his 13-year old daughter Gianna, boarded a Sikorsky S-76 helicopter from John Wayne’s Airport, Orange County, California. The flight comprised of 9 passengers. Their names are Kobe and Gianna Bryant, John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Payton Chester, Sarah Chester, Christina Mauser, Ara Zobayan.
The national transportation and safety board arrived at the scene on the night of the incident. The NTSB said that the helicopter did not have a terrain warning system. It could have alerted the pilot of the hills below him, and that the plane missed clearing a hill by 20 to 30 feet.
Investigators recovered the remains of the passengers. For the remains, we could tell that Kobe Bryant, his daughter, as well as members of her basketball team, and their families boarded Bryant’s private helicopter that day.
All nine people on the flight were going to the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks to attend his daughter’s basketball game.
The helicopter had previously completed this same trip a day before the incident. The original plan was to land at Camarillo Airport, about a 20-minute drive from the sports academy.
From Kurt Deetz, another pilot who often flew Bryant to LA for games and practice, it is known that only highly skilled pilots like Ara Zobayan would have been in the air in the conditions seen on Sunday. Deetz explained further that, ‘Zobayan was an experienced pilot deeply familiar with the Los Angeles area.’
The cause of the Crash
On the morning of the incident, the National Weather Service’s local office warned about the weather. The weather was terrible. A deep marine layer, low clouds, and dense fog. The Police department also grounded its helicopter that morning. However, Kobe’s aircraft received special permission to fly despite the harsh weather condition.
About 10 minutes into the air, officials of Burbank air-traffic control ordered the helicopter to hold. There was another aircraft preparing to land at the same time.
The pilot said he would circle over Glendale and await instruction.
Glendale is about 45 miles from John Wayne Airport and some 40 miles from Thousand Oaks. However, the aircraft had never been far north as Glendale on previous flights.
The helicopter circled for twelve minutes while awaiting clearance to continue in the foggy conditions. Usually, under such circumstances, pilots are to remain in close contact with air-traffic controllers and seek ‘flight following’ from controllers.
When Zobayan requested ‘flight following’ from air-traffic controllers, they said he was flying too low below radar coverage.
According to the NTSB, the helicopter climbed to about 2,300 feet to avoid a cloud layer shortly before starting a descending left turn.
Moments later, the helicopter crashed into a hilly area in Thousand Oaks at about 1,700 feet. It had been flying at about 153 knots, or 176 mph, according to FlightRadar24.
Later on, they discovered that the helicopter does not have a terrain awareness warning system (TAWS). It provides terrain information to the pilot and prevents unintentional impacts with the ground.
Born on August 23, 1978, Kobe Bryant was an NBA star. He is regarded as one of the greatest Basketball Players of all time. Bryant played as a shooting guard, and later drafted into the NBA from high school.
He won five NBA championships as soon as he was drafted. Bryant was an 18-time All-Star, 15-time member of the All-NBA Team, 12-time member of the All-Defensive Team, and the 2008 NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP). He completed his 20-season career in the National Basketball Association (NBA) with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Kobe was married to Vanessa Laine, and they had four daughters together. Their names are Natalia (born in January 2003), Gianna (born in May 2006), Bianka (born in December 2016), and their last daughter, Capri Kobe (born in June 2019).
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