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#pounditMonday, January 24, 2022

NTSB report shows pilot Ara Zobayan became disoriented in fog before crash

Ara Zobayan

The National Transportation Safety Board on Wednesday made public its docket containing facts related to the January 26 helicopter crash that killed nine people, including Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna.

One of the main takeaways from the report is that pilot Ara Zobayan became disoriented in the fog prior to the fatal crash. Zobayan believed he was ascending through the fog when in fact he was going downwards. He communicated via radio that he was climbing to an altitude of 4,000 feet to get above the clouds when he was actually descending towards a hillside where the helicopter crashed.

The path of the flight indicated Zobayan became disoriented.

Zobayan was the lead pilot for Island Express and had flown Bryant and other celebrities multiple times. He had flown the same group of people to the same destination — the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, Calif. — the day before.

Island Express reported 150 flight cancellations due to weather in 2019. They reported 13 cancellations due to weather in 2020, all of which occurred in the two days before the crash.

Zobayan was described as being diligent about checking the weather and said it was “OK” prior to flying on January 26.

The NTSB docket was created on June 16 and made public on June 17. You can find the entire file here.

In addition to the Bryants and Zobayan, the other people who died in the crash were John, Keri, and Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah and Payton Chester, and Christina Mauser.

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