Fri | Feb 21, 2020

Pilot of Kobe Bryant helicopter tried to avoid heavy fog

Published:Tuesday | January 28, 2020 | 9:54 AM
Investigators work the scene of a helicopter crash that killed former NBA basketball player Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others Monday, January 27, 2020, in Calabasas, California (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

CALABASAS, California (AP) — A veteran pilot who plunged into a Los Angeles-area hillside, killing Kobe Bryant and eight others, had tried to avoid fog so heavy that it had grounded police choppers, authorities said.

But even experienced pilots may have only seconds to act when they are blinded by weather, an expert said as investigators began scouring the wreckage for clues to Sunday morning’s crash.

The NBA postponed the Los Angeles Lakers’ next game against the Clippers on Tuesday night after the deaths of the retired superstar and the other victims.

Bryant’s death at age 41 was mourned around the world in an outpouring of shocked grief. And while the official investigation into the cause of the crash was just beginning and crews were still working to recover the bodies, experts and armchair pilots alike already were flooding social media and the airwaves with speculation.

One popular theme was the weather. Dense fog had settled along part of the flight path.

The chartered Sikorsky S-76B was a luxury twin-engine aircraft often used by Bryant in traffic-jumping hops around the LA area’s notoriously congested sprawl. It was heading from John Wayne Airport in Orange County to Camarillo Airport in Ventura County when it crashed in Calabasas.

Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and the other passengers were heading to Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy, a youth sports centre in Thousand Oaks.

Bryant was to coach a basketball tournament there in which his daughter was supposed to play.

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