Flight tower audio reveals that the pilot of Kobe Bryant’s helicopter was warned he was flying dangerously low before he crashed into a California mountainside at around 185mph, killing all aboard.
Flight tower audio reveals that the pilot of Kobe Bryant’s Sikorsky S-76 helicopter (tail number N72EX,) was warned he was flying too low, “Two echo x-ray you are still too low for flight following at this time……(then ATC talks to another aircraft)….two echo x-ray SoCal?”
Flight Following is a service air traffic control gives to aircraft to provide improved situational awareness and avoid collisions with other aircraft. SoCal handles the low altitude traffic in Southern California.
Aviation sources said the LA weather was extremely foggy on Sunday morning and most helicopter traffic was grounded.
The pilot of Kobe’s chopper planned to land at Burbank Airport but had been circling the area for around 15 minutes waiting for clearance to land because of the bad weather conditions and other aircraft on flight plans landing at the airport.
Shortly before the crash, the pilot climbed the helicopter to 2000 feet then flew into a mountain at 1700 feet. Flight data showed they were traveling at 161 knots (185mph).
A second aviation source said Bryant’s chopper had twin engines, so they would not have crashed if they had lost one engine.
The source said:
“All the signs point to a CFIT [controlled flight into terrain] which is when an aircraft under the complete control of a pilot is inadvertently flown into the land, sea, or a building. These accidents happen when the pilot loses situational awareness. The crash site also points to this, given how the debris is scattered, it looks like they went nose-first into the mountain.”
“Kobe’s helicopter is 29 years old, and most Sikorsky S-76s fly with two pilots. On Sunday, Kobe had just one pilot, who was likely flying on visual flight rules, rather than using instruments to monitor altitude.”
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