The heartbreaking helicopter crash that killed NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others was most likely caused by the pilot’s “spatial disorientation,” according to National Transportation Safety Board officials.
NTSB investigators are claiming that moments before the crash, the pilot thought the aircraft was climbing when in fact it was descending. One investigator described it as “the pilot doesn’t know which way is up.”
Authorities say that spatial disorientation is a very dangerous condition — and they are wanting more aircraft carriers to implement programs to help prevent pilots from experiencing the frightening condition during flight.
NTSB Vice Chairman Bruce Landsberg said that the pilot should have recognized the dangerous weather conditions on the day of the crash and turned around. Van Nuys airport was just a short distance from the crash site.
It was noted that Kobe and the pilot had a long history together and that the athlete trusted him to fly with his children even when the basketball star wasn’t on board. “This type of relationship that he had with the client can lead to self-induced pressure during the en route portion of the flight,” investigators said.
On the morning of January 26, 2020, Kobe, his daughter and a group of friends — which included Sarah and Payton Chester, Christina Mauser, John Altobelli, his wife Keri Altobelli and their daughter, Alyssa — set out in a helicopter to attend a basketball game.
Piloted by Ara Zobayan, the helicopter ultimately crashed in Calabasas, Calif. Zobayan had 10 years experience flying in the area, climbed sharply before banking (swift change in direction) abruptly and plunging into the California hillside. There were no survivors.
One year after the tragic accident that killed her husband and daughter, Vanessa Bryant posted a heartfelt message via Instagram mourning their loss. The mother-of-four shared a heartfelt letter from Gianna's best friend, Aubrey, alongside her own touching tribute.
Vanessa began her caption by thanking Aubrey for sharing "some of your memories of my Gigi with me and allowing me to share them here on my IG."
"I miss my baby girl and Kob-Kob so much, too. I will never understand why/how this tragedy could’ve happened to such beautiful, kind and amazing human beings," the grieving mama wrote. "It still doesn't seem real. Kob, we did it right. Gigi, you still make mommy proud. I love you!"
Vanessa — who is also mom to daughters Natalia, 18, Bianka, 4, and 1-year-old Capri — concluded her post using the hashtags: "#PlayGigisWay #Mambacita #Mamba #DaddysGirl" and "#GirlDad."