CALABASAS, CALIFORNIA – NBA Star Kobe Bryant died at the age of 41 when his private helicopter crashed Sunday morning in the Calabasas City area, California. His 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant was also on board the helicopter. She did not survive the crash. Nine people were killed in the crash – the pilot, Kobe Bryant, his daughter and 6 other passengers. Nobody on the ground was hurt. The helicopter reportedly flew too low in combination with a low visibility due to fog, resulting in the helicopter crashing into a hillside.
Initially 5 deaths were reported by the office of the LA County Sheriffs Department, saying that Kobe Bryant was with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and 3 others in his private helicopter, but LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva confirmed later that a total of 9 people died in the crash – the pilot and 8 passengers.
According to the latest reports, among the other victims were Kobe’s daughter Gianna’s teammates, Alyssa Altobelli and her parents John and Keri Altobelli, Payton Chester and her mother Sarah Chester, along with basketball coach Christina Mauser, and pilot Ara Zobayan, who was flying the helicopter.
According to flightradar24, the helicopter departed from John Wayne Airport in Orange County at 9:06 AM (PST) and radio contact was lost at 9:45 AM in the area of Calabasas City. At the time, the helicopter was flying at an altitude of 1,700 ft. and with a groundspeed of 153 kts.
Kobe Bryant’s helicopter – a Sikorsky S-76B with registration N72EX – is a helicopter type which has an impressive safety record since it flew for the first time in 1977. It also had the reputation for serving as a very reliable VIP and corporate helicopter, which can carry up to 14 people, including 2 pilots. The helicopter is smooth and quiet, like a limo in the sky.
The LA Lakers legend often used his private helicopter to avoid traffic between his Orange County home and LA. Bryant was also known for offering his helicopter to teammates, to help them get to doctors’ appointments fast.
Many people in the U.S. and in the whole world are shocked by the death of American basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter. Many of them shared their grief on social media, like President Trump and former President Obama:
The helicopter was on its way from Kobe Bryant’s hometown of Newport Beach to the Mamba Sports Academy – which he owned – in Thousand Oaks, where daughter Gianna would play a basketball game later in the day, while her father would act as a coach.
Kobe Bryant was one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Kobe won the NBA championship 5 times with the Los Angeles Lakers, his only NBA team for 20 years. He also was a double Olympic gold medallist. After a 20-year career with the LA Lakers he retired in April 2016 at the age of 37.
The cause of the crash is still unkown, but various media report that visibility into the area of the crash was limited, due to fog.
The FAA and NTSB are investigating the cause of the accident.
(Head photo: WolfWolfWolf / Pixabay)
Jerry Taha is the Founder, Chief Editor, and main contributor of flyhigh.news. He has written for avgeekery.com and luchtvaartnieuws.nl. Jerry is a passionate author, photographer, videographer, and YouTube creator. He lives south east of Amsterdam, Netherlands. In addition to his love for aviation, he also loves cars, traveling, being in nature, and he is an Ajax Amsterdam fan.
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