Kobe Bryant’s Chopper Was Just 12 Seconds Away From Making It Into Clear Skies When It Crashed

Kobe Bryant’s helicopter was just 100 feet and 12 seconds from clear skies before it crashed in thick fog, killing the basketball star, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others, according to federal investigators.   The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a preliminary report Friday on the probe into the January 26 crash in Calabasas, California, which suggested that the pilot came very close to navigating the unfavorable weather conditions and steering the helicopter out the other side to safety.   It stated the aircraft was only 100 feet away from exiting the heavy cloud and emerging into better visibility.  “If you exit the bottom of the clouds at 4,000 feet per minute at that high speed, you’ve certainly lost control of the aircraft,” air safety consultant Kipp Lau said.  Lau said pilot Ara Zobayan could have steered the chopper out of the clouds 12 seconds later, based on it ascending at 500 feet per minute.  “Once you break out of the clouds it’s clear. Everything lines up with the body,” Lau said.  “Now you have a real horizon.”  However, instead of holding off for the short time and continuing to increase altitude, Zobayan appears to have attempted a maneuver moving the aircraft up and forward to quickly clear the clouds, reported aviation expert Mike Sagely.  “When he went into the clouds, he had a full on emergency,” Sagely said.  The pilot then likely made a fatal left turn, sending the aircraft hurtling into the steep terrain at 180 mph.   Sagely said that turning during the pop-up maneuver is “catastrophic . . . 80 to 90 percent of the time.”

Photo Credit: L.A. County Sheriff’s office

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Scott Fox and Kat Callaghan