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The last flight of Legend Black Mamba

The last flight of Legend Black Mamba – By Ahmed Haouaria

30 Jan 2020

    This flight was supposed to be the kind of routine that Kobe Bryant, who used his helicopter as a personal transportation means, just like a car. An itinerary  he had made hundreds of times in his life.

Unfortunately, it was the last one. 


With specific weather conditions: deep dense fog in the region, federal weather forecasters had advised the aviation community of the need for “instrument flight rules” and that typical visual flight rules probably wouldn’t apply. Air-traffic controllers in Burbank told the aircraft to maintain special visual flight rules at or below 2,500 feet, according to recordings of tower communications.


Bellow is the transcribed communication exchange between Air Traffic and Kobe Bryant helicopter  captured  by  and published by The Telegraph and other US media.

Air Trafic Cotrol: Helicopter 72EX, Van Nuys. Wind calm, visibility 3 - 
2 1/2, ceiling 1100 overcast, Van Nuys altimeter 3016. Cleared into Van Nuys Class D northeast of   Van Nuys along the freeway westbound. Advise where you are in VFR conditions or when you are clear of the Van Nuys Class D Transition at or below 2500

Helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant:  2EX, advise in VFR condition and that we stay on the 118 we are currently at 1400 and we have 0235. 

Air Trafic Cotrol: Helicopter 72EX, thank you and once you have cleared Van Nuys D do you want to talk to Socal? 

Helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant: Affirmative, 2 EX.  Tower for 72EX, can we start go ahead and start turning to the southwest for 101? 

Air Trafic Cotrol: Helicopter 72EX, approved and are you transitioning in VFR conditions? 

Helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant: VFR conditions 1500, 2EX 

Air Trafic Control: Helicopter 72EX, indent 

Helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant: Silence

Air Trafic Control : Helicopter 72EX, you're following a 1200 code, so you're requesting flight following?

Helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant:   Silence

Air Trafic Cotrol :Helicopter 72EX, where, say intentions 

Helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant: Silence

Air Trafic Control : Helicopter 72EX, you're still too low level for flight following at this time 

Helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant: Silence

Air Trafic Cotrol : Helicopter 72EX, Socale ? 

The last minutes of communication between the pilot of the 72EX helicopter and ATC Air Traffic Controllers did not suggest any cause for possible technical failure until the communication suddenly stopped and only worrying silence came from the helicopter. A silence that later proved to be fatal. A bad indication that, within seconds, turned into the worst possible and unexpectedoutcome.

The helicopter pilot, whose crash killed NBA legend Kobe Bryant, could have attempted to leave the restricted area 

According to a flight instructor, the helicopter pilot, whose crash killed NBA legend Kobe Bryant, could have attempted to leave the restricted area to avoid the tragedy.

Helicopter flight instructor Randy Waldman, based in Los Angeles, was questioned by the Daily Mail about the air disaster that killed basketball player Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven people on January 26. Based on the radar data, the expert claimed that the helicopter pilot got lost in the fog and embarked on a fatal dive."Once you are disoriented, your bodily senses completely lead you astray. You have no idea which direction is going up or down, "he said.

"If you fly on sight, if you are caught in a situation where you cannot see through the windshield, the life expectancy of the pilot and the plane is perhaps 10 or 15 seconds", continued Mr. Waldman. The mist was so thick that day that even the Los Angeles Police Department and the County Sheriff's Department had immobilized their helicopters. Some experts think that the helicopter should not have taken off under these particular weather conditions. "He could have turned around and gone back to a safer place with better visibility," said Waldman. The sky was overcast at 400 meters and the visibility was around eight kilometers. The pilot was initially flying VFR (sight), which meant that he relied on his ability to see the terrain below him. However, he continues, "often someone who does it for a living is under pressure to get their client where they need to go." "They are taking risks that they shouldn't be taking."

Kobe Bryant's helicopter was warned that it was flying too low 15 minutes before the crash

The helicopter, a Sikorsky S-76B, took off from John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California at 9:08 a.m. It crashed in foggy weather 40 minutes later.Rescuers received a call at 9:47 a.m., after the plane crashed, causing a fire. 56 firefighters went to the scene to put out the brush fire. The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration, accompanied by the FBI, are still investigating the crash site.

One last exchange with the control tower at Van Nuys airport, then nothing. 

The Sikorsky S-76B did not respond to approach control from Southern California. Until the fatal accident, to the nine occupants of the aircraft.

The helicopter had taken off from Newport Beach, where Bryant resided, in the direction of the star’s sports center, Mamba Academy, located in Newbury Park, 135 km away. Authorities and experts seem to favor the weather track rather than possible mechanical problems. Philippe Lesourd, helicopter pilot and instructor who has been flying in California for twenty-nine years, also confirmed that the weather had probably made the pilot lose control of the aircraft, explaining that he had most likely suffered from "Spatial disorientation" after losing sight of the ground when entering the clouds.

"The probability of a serious failure of the two engines of this machine is almost zero," a former Island Express pilot, Kurt Deetz, who repeatedly transported Kobe Bryant, told the Los Angeles Times. 

A team of investigators is looking into the reasons for the tragedy, but for many aviation professionals and experts including Robert Ditchey, a longtime airplane pilot, aeronautical engineer “This was totally avoidable, and on the part of some people I can go as far as to say irresponsible,’’ Ditchey said. “Here’s one of the most important people in the world who comes to a tragic end like this and you say, ‘Why? What the hell happened?’ 

As a reminder, Kobe Bryant was a basketball legend. One of seven players in history to have scored more than 30,000 points in his career. A five-time NBA champion, he was also a double gold medalist at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics with the United States.

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