Fatal helicopter crash involving former
Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant
Former Los Angeles Laker and five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant, along with his daughter Gianna and seven other occupants, were killed in a crash of a Sikorsky S-76 helicopter near Calabasas, CA. Bryant was flying from Santa Ana, about 30 miles southeast of Los Angeles when the helicopter crashed in hazy conditons in Calabasas.
The helicopter was manufactured in 1991 and was formerly flown by the State of Illinois.
The NTSB released an update to the accident investigation on 7 February 2020. A combination of information from that investigation update, as well as air traffic control transmissions from liveatc.net and flight path information from flightradar24.com revealed the following about this fatal flight:
- The helicopter was operating under visual flight rules, but visibility deteriorated during the flight.
- At Van Nuys airport, which is about 14 miles from the crash site, had visibility of 2.5 miles in haze, with a cloud ceiling of 1,900 feet above sea level.
- After departing Santa Ana, the aircraft flew toward the northwest along Interstate 5
- The helicopter entered a holding pattern for about 12 minutes over Glendale (point A on the flightradar24.com map below)
- After exiting the holding pattern, the helicopter was cleared continued northwest toward the 118 Freeway in the northern part of the San Fernando Valley (point B on the map)
- The helicopter was then cleared to proceed south toward the 101 freeway which is in the southern portion of the San Fernando Valley.
- Visibility had deteriorated and pilot was attempting climb to a higher altitude in order to get ATC to provide radar guidance for the flight.
- The top of the cloud layer in this area was about 2,400 feet above sea level.
- The helicopter had risen to an altitude of about 2,300 feet above sea level, which was about 1,500 feet above ground level and below the highest terrrain in the area.
- After traveling toward the southeastern corner of the San Fernando Valley, the helicopter appeared to reverse course, making a left turn to the south of Highway 101 (point C on the map).
The graphic below is the NTSB recreation of the last few minutes of the flight the illustrates the last portion f the flight in greater detail. The recreation shows that the helicopter was following Highway 101 as it climbed to a point about 1,500 feet above the highway. Information broadcast by the helicopter showed that it then entered a descending left turn, reaching a ground speed of about 160 knots and and a descent rate of about 4,000 feet per minute at the time of the helicopter's last transmission.
Impact, post crash fire, and cause of death
The impact site was on the side of a hill in a section with a 34 degree slope. The impact crater was 24 feet by15 feet in diameter and two feet deep. The main wreckage was about 127 feet from the impact crater. The fuselage, cabin, and both engines were subjected to a postcrash fire. Evidence at the crash site indicated that neither engine showed signs of uncontained or catastrophic internal failure.
According the to Los Angeles County Medical Examiner, the cause of death for all occupants was blunt force trauma.
Basketball career highlights
Kobe played in the NBA from 1996-2016, all for the Los Angeles Lakers. In addition to being on five championship teams, he was the NBA's MVP in 2008, the NBA Finals MVP in 2009 and 2010, and the NBA's top scorer in 2006 and 2007. In addition, he was on two gold medal winning US Olympic basketball teams in 2008 and 2012.
NTSB investigative update from 7 February 2020
NTSB preliminary accident report
Wikipedia page on this crash
Kobe Bryant Wikipedia Page
Celebrity plane crashes
Older celebrity crashes
http://www.airsafe.com/events/celebs/bryant.htm -- Revised: 26 January 2020