Ara Zobayan Dead, Pilot Tragically Killed In Kobe Bryant Helicopter Crash

Ara George Zobayan has been identified as the pilot flying the helicopter involved in the fateful crash that took the lives of Kobe Bryant and eight others, including Bryant's daughter, Gianna.

Zobayan was among the nine victims of the crash, which left no survivors, according to a report by Daily Mail. The 50-year-old of Armenian descent was a respected pilot that was dedicated to the Bryant family. Daily Mail discovered a tribute to Zobayan posted on Facebook by his friend, Jared Yochim.

"Ara was an incredible pilot, instructor pilot, charter pilot and truly a great man," Yochim's post read. "He was not your typical egotistical helicopter pilot like most of us honestly are. Ara was a man that always remained cool, calm and collected. As more people that knew Ara open up about him, you'll only hear words like professional, calculated and loving."

Yochim described the loss of Zobayan as one borne by the community, not him alone, saying Zobayan was always good for a laugh and that he impacted many lives, and always in a positive way.

"You would've loved him, I promise."

According to KTLA's Christina Pascucci, a journalist and licensed pilot, Zobayan was known to teach aspiring helicopter pilots. She also tweeted that he was instrument rated, which means he was capable of flying in fog and clouds, the very conditions under which this fateful flight took place. As The Los Angeles Times reports, a conversation between Zobayan and air traffic control reveals that he was piloting the helicopter under visual flight rules (VFR), which would have required good visibility.

"An audio recording of an exchange between the pilot and air traffic controllers indicates that he was flying under visual flight rules, but that could not be confirmed Sunday night. At one point, the pilot tells a controller that he is 'in VFR at 1,500' feet."
Emergency crews respond to a helicopter crash.
Getty Images | LASD
Emergency crews respond to a helicopter crash that reportedly killed former NBA player Kobe Bryant -- and eight others -- on January 26, 2020 in Calabasas, California.

According to Federal Aviation Administration records obtained by The Inquisitr, Zobayan was issued his commercial pilot license on December 3, 2007. The FAA designated him in the second medical class (for commercial pilots) and noted that he required corrective lenses for near vision. Shortly after receiving his commercial pilot's license, Zobayan also received ground instructor certification on Juky 9, 2008. Records indicate that Zobayan was also given a flight instructor certificate on May 14, 2018, rated for rotorcraft helicopter instruction and helicopter instrument instruction.

Records indicate that Zobayan was 50-years-old and that he lived in Huntington Beach, California.