The hearts of the world have been heavy since news broke of the fatal helicopter crash, that killed 9 passengers, including former NBA superstar, Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gigi Bryant.
Pilot Ara Zobayan told air traffic controllers in his last radio message that he was trying to fly higher to avoid the foggy cloud layer before the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board will be investigating the events that led to the unfortunate crash.
“We are not just focusing on weather,” board member, Jennifer Homendy states. “We look at man, machine and the environment, and the weather is just a small portion of that.”
The foggy weather is just one factor that led to the crash, however, investigators are taking a look at the helicopter’s maintenance and the pilot’s history as well. The radar indicated that the helicopter reached a height of 2,300 feet before descending.
On Monday morning, NTSB investigators went to the crash site for further investigation. “A piece of the tail is down the hill,” Homendy reported. “The fuselage is on the other side of that hill, and then the main rotor is about 100 yards beyond that.”
Prior to the crash, the pilot had asked for air traffic to provide “flight following” radar assistance but was told that the helicopter was too low for that assistance. Moments after, “The pilot advised they were climbing to avoid a cloud layer,” Homendy said. “When ATC asked what the pilot planned to do, there was no reply. Radar data indicated the helicopter climbed 2,300 feet and then began a left descending turn. Last radar contact was around 9:45 AM.” Moments after, 911 would receive a call, reporting the crash of the helicopter.
Randy Waldman, a helicopter flight instructor said, “If you’re flying visually if you get caught in a situation where you can’t see out the windshield, the life expectancy of the pilot and aircraft is maybe, 10-15 seconds, and it happens all the time, and it’s really a shame.”
Since the crash, experts have raised the question of “Should the helicopter have even been flying.” Due to the foggy weather, the Los Angeles Police Department and the sheriff’s department have grounded their helicopters.
Our prayers and condolences are with the families of those affected by the unfortunate crash.