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What caused the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant?

What caused the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant?

What caused the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant?

Since Kobe’s death was reported, I have struggled to understand the conditions under which an experienced commercial pilot in a highly capable aircraft could kill nine people in an apparent series of questionable decisions.

Like most aviation disasters, this outcome was not a single mistake but a series of misjudgments and poor decisions that culminated in a tragedy.

On the morning of the flight, the weather at the departure point in Orange County was acceptable for VFR (visual flight rules). Still, the conditions were forecast to deteriorate along the flight route until they became unacceptable for visual flights near the destination airport. That morning, the National Weather Service forecasted IFR (instrument flight rules) conditions in Camarillo, the intended destination.

Why, when the destination is forecast to be in instrument conditions, would an experienced commercial IFR pilot NOT choose to file an IFR flight plan?

The critical answer to this question has now been answered. It has recently been reported that although the pilot was instrument-rated, the charter company that employed him did not have certification for their helicopters to fly in instrument conditions. Legally, he could not plan a flight under IFR conditions. This makes it clear that the first and most important mistake happened before the flight: the decision to make the flight.

Why would an experienced pilot decide to embark on a flight likely to present instrument conditions through which he cannot legally navigate?

Of course, we can never know what happened in the head of Kobe’s pilot. But as an instrument-rated pilot who lived in LA for 12 years during my medical training, I can certainly understand the compulsion for a commercial pilot to be extremely motivated to maintain their status as a celebrity pilot.

Los Angeles is a world unto itself when it comes to celebrity culture. There is no place where perceived celebrity status is more important than in LA. There is a status hierarchy around celebrities that shines its glory on the sphere of people around them and can sometimes affect people’s judgement. 

A case in point is the cardiologist who administered the lethal dose of propofol to Michael Jackson, a blatantly unjustifiable medical act that would never be considered under normal circumstances. But when you are chosen to be at the side of Michael Jackson, the celebrity limelight can distort reality. 

What caused the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant?

You would expect that the professional judgement of such highly trained professionals would be immune to these effects. Still, history is full of such anecdotes, and pilots are not exempt. Helicopter and aeroplane pilots who fly charter aircraft could be more well-paid. You would be shocked at some of the salaries.

Pilots do it because they love it and can build experience and flight time while being paid, which may land them a higher-paying job at the top of the food chain. Don’t get me wrong, being a charter helicopter pilot is a good gig. But if you are Kobe’s helicopter pilot in LA, you have a GREAT gig, one of the best pilot jobs ever. And a very long line of capable pilots behind you would be happy to take your place.

We will never know the pilot’s mental state that morning, what factors he considered as he decided that the flight was a “go”. In aviation, we call these “external factors” the details other than the condition of the pilot, aircraft and weather that might influence our decision-making.

A classic example is a physician pilot who has surgery planned at a remote hospital that he commutes to in his private plane. The pressure to not cancel the surgery is a very strong external factor that has killed more than a few doctors. In the case of Kobe, the mere fact that it is Kobe is a massive external factor that surely affected the pilot’s desire to meet expectations.

These external factors likely impacted not only the initial bad decision to make the flight in the first place but also likely affected subsequent decision points, which could have avoided this tragedy.

What caused the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant?

As an experienced pilot intimately familiar with the LA airspace and weather patterns, he knew the challenging weather would be most problematic as he was flying west in the San Fernando Valley. After traversing Burbank airspace and entering the San Fernando Valley, he travelled at 160mph as he approached deteriorating weather conditions and the mountains at the west end of the valley. 

The beauty of a helicopter is that you can HOVER or fly as slow as you like (in IFR flight, slowing down is more realistic than hovering, which is very challenging to do on instruments). At 160 mph, things happen very fast. The choice of this airspeed when approaching what he surely knew would be the most challenging part of the flight was another contributing factor. 

After flying into the bad weather and likely losing visual conditions, the third mistake was not just to climb, slow down to a hover, and confess to ATC that he was in the clouds and needed to convert to an IFR flight plan. Although this is not technically legal, it is allowable for any pilot to do what is necessary in an emergency, and questions would only be asked once they were safely on the ground, if any are asked at all. 

I do not know the ramifications for him as a pilot, and this technical infraction might go completely unnoticed; at worst, I would think some inquiry from the FAA or reprimand. But everyone would be alive.

What caused the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant?

In the helicopter crash that killed Kobe and his daughter, are there any remains of their bodies?

Yes, of course. Human remains dont vanish. To cremate a body to ash, it takes temperatures of 1,100° F and at least 2 hours under that heat.

While jet fuel can burn at those temps, when you’re in an open field (allows the heat to escape up into the atmosphere vs an enclosed condition where the heat can concentrate and build), the body would have to land directly in a puddle of burning fuel to be subjected to that temperature. Plus, a helicopter’s relatively small amount of fuel would burn off fairly quickly.

The secondary brush fires would not be sufficient to cremate the bodies.

The 180mph crash, which can potentially do some dismembering and would certainly lead to closed caskets, isn’t enough to destroy the bodies. Even with the blunt force trauma and fire, individual bodies are recoverable after a helicopter or plane crash, barring unusual circumstances not present at that Calabasas hillside.

The extremely rugged and relatively remote terrain is the main thing hampering the Coroner from recovering all the bodies. Still, they are doing just that, and the families can bury (or fully cremate if they wish) the remains in proper funerals.

Who was on the helicopter with Kobe Bryant?

Nine people were on board: retired professional basketball player Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, baseball coach John Altobelli, five other passengers, and the pilot.

Hi, guys. I’m a basketball coach and a big fan of Kobe Bryant. I was heartbroken when I heard the news of Kobe’s death on January 26 2020. 

I’ve watched all of Kobe Bryant’s game videos. He was the number one in basketball. I saw a Kobe Bryant souvenir on the Internet a few days ago. I didn’t hesitate to buy it. It’s a floating object. Both sides are Kobe Bryant’s picture. This is a cc which is printed on January 26, 2020. The day Kobe Bryant was killed, I will never forget.

Can anyone summarize the life of Kobe Bryant?

Kobe Bean Bryant was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on August 23, 1978. Named after a city in Japan, Bryant is the son of former NBA player Joe “Jellybean” Bryant.

In 1984, after ending his NBA career, the elder Bryant took the family to Italy, where he played in the Italian League. Growing up in Italy alongside two athletic older sisters, Shaya and Sharia, Bryant was an avid basketball and soccer player. When the family returned to Philadelphia in 1991, Bryant joined the Lower Merion High School basketball team, leading it to the state championships four years in a row. With an eye on the NBA, he also started working out with the 76ers.

Though boasted good grades and high SAT scores, Bryant decided to go straight to the NBA from high school. The Charlotte Hornets selected him with the 13th overall pick of the 1996 NBA draft, and he was subsequently traded to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Sexual Assault Charge

In July 2003, Bryant was charged with one count of sexual assault on a 19-year-old female hotel worker in Colorado. Bryant said he was guilty of adultery but innocent of the rape charge. The case against Bryant was dismissed in 2004, and he settled the civil lawsuit filed by the hotel worker against him out of court.


Among his philanthropic endeavours, the basketball great partnered with the non-profit After-School All-Stars as part of the Kobe & Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation. He also ran an annual summer camp called the Kobe Basketball Academy.

Wife and Kids

Bryant married 19-year-old Vanessa Laine in April 2001. The couple became parents to four daughters: Natalia Diamante (b. 2003), Gianna Maria-Onore (b. 2006, d. 2020), Bianka (b. 2016) and Capri (b. 2019).


On January 26, 2020, Bryant boarded a Sikorsky S-76 helicopter that crashed in the Los Angeles suburb of Calabasas. Nine people, including Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna “Gigi,” died. The helicopter was heading from Orange County to Thousands Oaks, California, where Bryant was scheduled to coach a tournament game at Mamba Sports Academy.

What was left of Kobe Bryant’s body after the crash?

Why would anyone even ask this question? Someone with a severe mental health issue- that’s who! Pictures were illegally taken and shared. Mrs. Bryant won (as well as the other families who lost loved ones) in court millions of dollars. Vanessa Kobe put the money won in the court case into a nonprofit to continue to help people experiencing poverty and youth. 

Why did she push this issue? Think about Kobe’s or Gigi’s family and friends suddenly seeing such photos online. The authorities had the authority and duty to take such pictures BUT not to take extras for their private collection. The whole idea of the jerks who kept such pictures makes me sick.

Which is better to live in, Kochi or Trivandrum?

How many shots did Kobe miss in his career?

That one stat stood out from the rest. He missed more shots than any other player in history, 14,481 altogether, more than 1,000 up on the man in second place, the Boston Celtics’ John Havlicek.

Could Kobe’s crash have been prevented?

Yes, 1) he could have turned back away from the mountains safely to the nearest airport as were advised to do by air traffic controllers and then taken an Uber or called one of his private drivers for the last 40 miles, 2) was not fully equipped with safety such as terrain warning alert if, e.g. too near side of a mountain, 3).

BC copters are capable at Very Slow speeds of going straight up, hovering, and straight down; they could have landed instead of choosing to go 185 mph in dense fog and cloud cover, constantly changing and unpredictable from moment to moment. 

Bc went on a straight down 185 mph dive prior, experts speculate that he had a not uncommon very sudden disorientation caused by his inner ear; he could not anymore tell up from down, and so thought he was following an instinct, thinking he needed to go up quickly; same happened to john Kennedy jr in the plane over Nantucket; lastly.

It’s difficult for pilots to abort missions with VIP clients, pressure to prove skill and worth in why you got the job and should keep it, and the guy was elite-level experienced.

Why did Kobe Bryant die when his helicopter crashed at 22 mph, but people can survive car accidents at 22 mph? Why are helicopter crashes more dangerous at the same speed?

Because a helicopter is not made for an impact, aside from collapsing seat structures, compressing wheel struts, and spreading skid tubes, these crash-worthiness additions are implemented at a reasonable cost of weight increase for more common hard landings with a higher than usual rate of descent, but not much else.

In a helicopter, the transmission, rotor, and engines are mounted on top of an airframe that supports the total weight of the helicopter hanging from the transmission but does not support nearly as much weight of the transmission pushing into the airframe. When a crash happens, it tends to collapse those heavy structures into the cabin and its occupants.

Additionally, helicopters are built to be as light as structurally possible. It does not support a structure which impacts well. Road-going vehicles are made to impact at specific points and predictable angular momentum into generally similar structures of other vehicles. Cars also don’t suffer penalties for additional weight, so they can afford to implement more features and safety systems. 

What caused the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant?

A spinning, rolling, or falling helicopter will typically impact any variety of unpredictable terrain. In addition to the problems above, there tend to be dozens to hundreds of gallons of fuel that need to be dealt with, and very hot exhaust components that will readily ignite the fuel (as well as inevitable sparks from metal impacting metal or rock, or other electrical spark ignition sources).

Lastly, there are no airbags inside of helicopters; the insides are often spartan and lack interior cushioning for occupant impact. Rotor blades are also known to enter the occupant area during accidents.

The aircraft may have been travelling at “22mph” airspeed. However, what was its rate of descent yaw rate, and at what angle or attitude did it impact the ground?

It’s not pretty, but Kobe likely died extremely violently, where he was smashed into an unrecognizable form of meat and then incinerated. The upside is that he probably did not suffer for very long. The same goes for all occupants of the aircraft. RIP and blue skies.

My theory on the accident cause is a combination of IIMC and pilot fatigue from fighting his proprioceptive system in SVFR conditions for a prolonged period.

Was Kobe Bryant’s death set up or truly an accident?

My statement is my own. As a father of daughters and a husband, I felt this loss. It was a tragic loss for many, but most importantly, his family. Instead of focusing on “was this a setup,” we should consider how the family feels. Kobe Bryant left an imprint that goes beyond basketball. 

Was Kobe Bryant’s death set up or truly an accident?

Kobe Bryant is a legend that will be forever missed. So let’s put all the conspiracy theories aside and realize a wife and mother lost her husband and daughter. Also, others lost their family as reports have come in about other deaths involved in the accident. Let’s mourn together and celebrate the greatness that Kobe left here.

What caused the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant?

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