Everything We Know About What Caused Kobe Bryant’s Helicopter to Crash

Sunday, March 15th 2020, 12:18 pm
By: News On 6

Helicopter Crush

From dreams to tragedy.

Kobe Bryant had 4 daughters, but it was his 13-year-old Gianna who was a budding basketball star and had big dreams of joining the WNBA. One Sunday, after going to church, Kobe and his daughter Gianna boarded a helicopter to fly to one of her youth basketball tournaments.

Sadly, neither the father or daughter ever got to their destination. Something forced the helicopter to crash quickly, and there weren’t any survivors.

Today, fans find themselves trying to make sense of the tragedy. While the investigation is still ongoing, there have been some new discoveries.

Read on to learn more about the causes behind Kobe Bryant’s helicopter crash.

What Caused the Chopper to Crash?

Today, we are still waiting on the final report to pinpoint the exact cause of the crash. However, investigators have several distinct possibilities they’re looking into.

At first, authorities thought the engine may have failed. However, new information is proving that it’s not that simple. Now, authorities are looking into mechanical issues, and weather factors that might have caused the chopper to crash.

From Blue Skies to Fog

When the helicopter took off, there were clear blue skies in Orange County, California. However, eventually, the weather took a turn, and a thick fog grew, making it hard for drivers to get around on the freeway. At the time of the crash, the visibility was so bad that the Los Angeles Police department had temporarily grounded its entire fleet of choppers.

The pilot who was flying the helicopter had a lot of experience flying similar routes and southern areas of California. He had just flown the same route earlier in the week before the crash. He was such a good, and personable pilot that VIP passengers would request him.

Pilots Last Words

The helicopter didn’t have any type of voice recorder. However, investigators were able to salvage a cell phone and iPad from the wreckage.

The very last message the pilot left for air traffic control, before the crash, was an update about the weather. The helicopter was flying through a thick layer of clouds.

The last thing the pilot told air traffic control was that he was going to fly the helicopter higher to avoid one of the cloud layers. There were witnesses on the ground, who said they saw the helicopter go through a foggy patch of sky moments before it crashed.

When the helicopter began falling, it hurtled towards the ground at an unusually fast rate. Investigators are calling the crash a high-energy impact incident. It’s still a mystery as to why the helicopter fell to the earth so quickly.

Investigators say the helicopter was falling at such a fast rate, it would have been impossible for the pilot to successfully land it in any way. When the helicopter finally hit the ground, it crashed into a hillside in southern California.

Missing Warning System

Officials are now releasing information about the choppers warning system, or lack of. Since the helicopter didn’t have the right warning system, it wasn’t able to alert the pilot when it was getting too close to the ground. Technology that warns a pilot about ground distance isn’t mandatory.

The NTSB recommends that all helicopters have a ground warning system in place. Sadly, certain companies don’t view the cost of the warning system as a wise investment, since it’s not a requirement.

If Kobe Bryant’s pilot had a terrain awareness warning system in place, perhaps it would have helped him navigate the chopper.

Flying in Poor Visibility

Island Express Helicopters, is the name of the company the helicopter that crashed belonged to. To get permission to fly in poor visibility, helicopter companies have to get specific certifications.

The only certification Island Express Helicopters had was a Federal aviation administration certification. This certification allowed their pilots to fly using specific visual flight rules. A Helicopter Crash Attorney would argue that the pilot should have never been in the sky that day.

The helicopter had all sorts of high-tech instruments for flying in poor visibility. However, the visual flight rules state that a pilot is only allowed to navigate the aircraft using visuals, not instruments.

Since the helicopter company didn’t have the right certificate, the pilot couldn’t use the instruments onboard. Instead, the pilot had to either stay on the ground or navigate the chopper strictly with visuals.

Sikorsky Has a Reputation for Safety

The helicopter that Kobe Bryant was on was a Sikorsky S-76B. A model frequently used for VIP passengers, search and rescue missions, and air ambulances. The high-end helicopter has a strong reputation for being a safe and durable aircraft.

After exploring the wreckage, investigators were able to narrow down the type of damage. It appears the damage on the helicopter was a result of “powered rotation”. This means the engine was moving the helicopter’s rotors at the time the helicopter crashed into the hillside.

Exploring the Wreckage

The impact was so intense that the entire cabin of the helicopter caught fire after the crash. The cockpit was completely torn apart. The sophisticated flight instruments we’re obliterated. All of the pilot’s flight controls broke, smashing into countless pieces, and burning in the fire.

Eye Witness Testimony

One witness who was nearby on a mountain bike trail saw the helicopter just before the crash. The witness said they could hear the helicopter, and it sounded like a normal helicopter in flight.

However, the witness said the sound began to grow louder when the blue-and-white helicopter came out of the thick clouds. According to the witness, the helicopter was quickly moving in a downward direction.

The helicopter began to tilt to the left, and the witness could see the belly of the chopper. Finally, the chopper crashed into the terrain of the hill.

Finding Closure

The investigation into what caused Kobe Bryant’s helicopter to crash is still ongoing. Hopefully, the finalized report will be available to the public soon, and everyone can find the closure they deserve.

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