Basketball

Fresh information on helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant emerges

Kobe Bryant helicopter crash
Kobe Bryant helicopter crash. Photo/CNN

After a long time, fresh information on how NBA legend Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash on January 26, 2020, has emerged. Bryant died alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others.

All that we thought we knew about the final minutes of Kobe’s life is being rewritten by the fresh information. But as the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) wrapped up its hearing on February 9, 2021, authorities couldn’t help but think back to the fateful hours before those nine innocent lives were lost. They had no idea what was in store for them on that day.

By 7 a.m. on that Sunday, Kobe attended church service before driving from his house on the Newport Coast to Santa Ana’s John Wayne Airport. While a storm loomed overhead, the early morning sun was slowly slipping away, but the basketball legend was unconcerned.

Fresh Information on Kobe Bryant helicopter crash

On the second day of its first-ever tournament, the Orange County basketball team that Kobe coached was ready to play. As anxious as they were to improve on their 0-1 record, “Team Mamba” found that simply driving around the block wouldn’t get them to their next round of games as planned.

Kobe Bryant helicopter Crash

Kobe Bryant helicopter Crash. Photo/Sky News

That’s why Kobe volunteered to fly Gianna and several of her teammates, as well as their parents, to the event instead of making the exhausting trek himself. Is it any surprise that the NBA star has travelled by helicopter for several games in his senior years?

Even the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department grounded its helicopters due to bad weather conditions, so it’s not surprising that other pilots were grounded as well. Ara Zobayan, Kobe’s pilot, was the first person he turned to when he feared Gianna and the others would miss their midday kickoff.

A calm and composed Ara informed Kobe that the day’s flight had been approved by both he and the airport’s flight coordinator. Kobe and Gianna boarded the Mamba Copter at 9:06am with their guests—three of Gianna’s teammates and their parents—and set off for their destination. For the first time in their lives, everyone was able to see them.

No Hitches at First

Ara’s trip took off without a hitch, but he flew low rather than bank high over the Hollywood Hills like he had done the previous day. The chopper was held in a holding pattern for 11 minutes by controllers from the Hollywood Burbank airport as they approached Glendale.

It wasn’t long before a buzzing sound was heard in the distance, far too close to be coming from an aircraft. The sound got louder and louder as it travelled east until an abrupt and painful thump was heard. Radio silence followed.

The county coroner described the scene as “brutal,” with the charred remains of the aircraft still alight as rescuers looked for survivors. Seeing the scattered debris and raging flames made obvious the awful fact they had understood from the beginning—all people on board were dead.

TMZ was the first to share the news of the crash with the rest of the world. Disbelieving followers sifted through their social media accounts for hours; loved ones sent desperate texts to the victims, but received no response. Parents and athletes at the Mamba Academy linked hands and knelt down to pray. A mistake had to have occurred.

Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, as well as seven others, died in the incident. Everyone had one thing on their mind as they mourned the loss of their loved ones: “What happened?”

What Happened in Kobe Bryant’s Crash

According to NTSB findings, Ara’s problems began, when he rose through the cloud cover just before he lost communication. When the helicopter reached 2,300 feet, it “performed a broad partial U-turn to the left and then commenced a sharp fall.”

Falling at a pace of 4,000 feet per minute, the helicopter was only 20 to 30 feet shy of clearing the slope ahead. Yet the poor vision left Ara a little chance to reverse course before the catastrophic accident. But what prompted the chopper to fall suddenly and uncontrollably?

Kobe Bryant Shouldn’t Have Flow That Day

Kobe Bryant Pilot

Kobe Bryant’s pilot Ara Zobayan. Photo/South China Morning Post

Considering the circumstances, Ara clearly shouldn’t have flown that day, even if he had the necessary training and experience to handle the bad weather. NTSB concluded that the accident was caused by a condition known as “somatogravic illusion” at their highly anticipated February 9 hearing.

Physiologically, your brain might become disoriented when flying over the clouds, according to former NTSB investigator Anthony Brickhouse. Officials believe that Ara became disoriented and crashed as a result of believing the aircraft was climbing when it wasn’t.

According to NTSB investigators, Kobe’s tragic demise will serve as a cautionary story for pilots in the future because of the prevalence of somatogravic illusions in helicopter disasters.

Finally, the victims’ loved ones may rest easy knowing that their loved ones will be able to move on with their lives after the board’s decision.

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