Pilot was foolish to fly in dense fog, say experts
BASKETBALL legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and seven other people didn’t have to die in the horrifying helicopter crash that shocked the world!
A GLOBE special investigation reveals the doomed Sikorsky S-76B chopper was not carrying a black box recording device, which could have told investigators what was happening when the craft smashed into mountains west of Los Angeles.
The absent gizmo could have given clues as to what happened to the luxury craft after it lifted off about half an hour earlier in dense fog described as “very scary,” a situation that led L.A. police and county sheriff’s helicopter fleets to be ordered grounded the morning of Jan. 26.
The doomed copter was headed to a basketball tournament in Thousand Oaks, Calif., where Kobe, 41, was to coach and his daughter Gianna was to play when it climbed to 2,000 feet to clear clouds and then suddenly plummeted into a hillside.
Also killed were baseball coach John Altobelli, his daughter Alyssa and wife Keri; girls’ basketball coach Christina Mauser; and parent Sarah Chester and daughter Payton, as well as pilot Ara Zobayan.
Robert Ditchey, an ex-Navy pilot, aeronautical engineer and former airline executive, blasts the tragedy as “totally avoidable … I can go as far as to say irresponsible.
“The weather is not good enough for the police to fly — why should Kobe do it?” he asks about the hoops legend, whose storied 20-year career left him as the fourth-highest scorer in NBA history.
The shooting guard also was a shrewd investor, especially in high-tech start-ups he funded through his venture capital firm, Bryant Stibel. Among the enterprises was Epic Games, the creator of online video sensation Fortnite, now valued in the billions.
In a 2016 interview Kobe, who was worth at least $600 million, said he hoped to eventually be remembered more for investing than for his basketball career.
The ill-fated chopper’s pilot was qualified to fly in bad conditions and had permission, but a recording indicates he apparently ignored a second warning from a flight controller telling him: “Helicopter 7-2 Echo X-ray, you’re still too low.”
Zobayan then suddenly plummeted from 2,300 feet to 1,700 feet at 176 mph before vanishing from radar around 9:45 a.m.
New York aviation attorney Justin T. Green, who flew helicopters in the Marine Corps, also questioned the pilot’s risky decision to depart in low visibility.
“The pilot launched as a special visual flight rules [SVFR] and he’s supposed to remain clear of clouds and fog,” says Green.
Here’s the latest, Vannessa Bryant posted a message about the status of her grieving of her late husband Kobe Bryant and her daughter Gianna
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