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Kobe Bryant's Deadly Helicopter Crash: Pilot Texted Weather 'Should Be Ok' Morning Of Accident

NTSB
By Mike Walters

The night before Kobe Bryant's deadly helicopter accident, the broker arranging for his flight texted concern to the pilot that "weather could be an issue," -- a warning that was eventually ignored.

According to new documents released by the NTSB, on the night before the fateful trip, the company providing Kobe Bryant with the helicopter, and the chopper's pilot, and several employees of the former Los Angeles Lakers star, were on a group text chain discussing the upcoming flight.

In the test messages, obtained by The Blast, the broker warned the group 'weather could be an issue," and the pilot advised he would let the group know if it was safe to fly the next morning.

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See The Pilot's Text Messages...

NTSB

In the text chain, pilot Ara Zobayan answered the broker "Just checked, Not the best day tomorrow, but it is not as bad as today."

Early the next morning, the pilot texted the group "Morning, weather looking ok," at 7:30 a.m.

So, as the group prepared to depart for Kobe Bryant's daughter Gigi's basketball game in Thousand Oaks, a person on the group chat asked the pilot, "Ara, How weather looking for 9 departure."

The pilot simply answered, "Should be Ok."

As we reported, about an hour and a half after this discussion, Kobe Bryant and his daughter along with six other passengers slammed into a hillside in Calabasas, CA -- covered in fog -- killing everyone onboard.

Pilot: 'Weather Looking Ok'

The text messages were among over 1,700 pages of documents released by the NTSB Wednesday, involving their lenghly investigation into the deadly crash.

In February, a preliminary report said there were no signs of engine failure and confirmed the chopper did not lose power before crashing into the hill. But, even though video released by the NTSB shows heavy fog in the area, they have not confirmed bad weather as the cause of the accident.

Interestingly, the documents included a letter from someone who worked with the pilot over the years, who said he was very careful on flights -- and often canceled them because of bad weather.

NTSB Doesn't Release Final 'Findings' In Cause Of Deadly Crash

NTSB

"In the many years working with Mr. Zobayan, we texted, emailed and spoke via the phone regarding weather conditions prior to flights I had arranged with Island Express. It was part of his conscientious and detailed nature, innate in him to make sure that conditions were safe to fly," the letter began.

It continued, "I can certainly attest to the fact that he checked weather continually for his flights, as I had many flights with him as pilot. We communicated at length, always prior to flights, (and often days in advance watching weather patterns) night and day, at any hour, as needed to ensure we were good, clear for the "Go or "No Go" so I could properly advise clients and make alternate arrangements. Many flights were canceled or postponed due to weather at Ara's direction."

But, it appears in the transmission with air traffic control, the pilot may have become disoriented in the fog.

Pilot May Have Been Disoriented In The Fog And 'Misperceived' The Flight Path

NTSB

According to the documents, Ara Zobayan radioed to air traffic controllers that he was climbing to 4,000 feet to "get above" clouds. But, at the time, in fact, the helicopter was dropping towards the hillside.

The report states that Zobayan may have “misperceived” the angles to which he was dropping and turning -- something that happens when a pilot is disoriented.

“Calculated apparent angles at this time show that the pilot could have misperceived both pitch and roll angles,” the document stated.

It contiuned, “During the final descent the pilot, responding to (air traffic control), stated that they were ‘climbing to four thousand.’”

The NTSB will release its final report on the cause of the deadly crash, at some point in the future.

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