Pilot in Kobe Bryant Helicopter Crash Likely Pressured Himself to Fly in Bad Weather, Investigators Say
Investigators said that pilot Ara Zobayan had "spacial disorientation" when the helicopter crashed into the hillside. They also said that he likely felt "self-induced pressure" to keep flying in dangerous conditions.
Just over a year after a helicopter crash took the lives of basketball legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others outside Los Angeles, the National Transportation Safety Board has concluded their investigation. Investigators say the pilot, Ara Zobayan, had “spatial disorientation” when the helicopter crashed.
“At that point the aircraft is not in control. The pilot really doesn’t know which way is up,” an investigator said.
Surveillance footage shows the helicopter disappearing into the clouds minutes before the fiery crash. Investigators say Zobayan radioed that he intended to climb above the clouds, but instead descended rapidly.
Investigators say Bryant did not pressure the pilot to take any dangerous risks, but it was likely Zobayan's "self-induced pressure" that led to him proceeding in dangerous weather conditions and poor visibility.
“Self-induced pressure can result when someone has a relationship of trust, in this case with a prominent person. There’s a tendency to want to please that person so the relationship can be maintained,” an investigator said.
“I am really saddened by this crash, and we use the term crash rather than accident. An accident is something unforeseen, unpredictable if you will. Unfortunately this wasn't,” another investigator said.
The NTSB hopes the results of the investigation will help other chopper pilots in the future.
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