The helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Bryant -- along with seven other passengers -- reportedly got special approval to fly in foggy weather conditions that grounded other flights in the area. The New York Times reports that the weather conditions in southern Los Angeles were less than ideal, causing some to ground their aircraft. As such, the pilot's decision to continue to fly will likely end up being the main focus of the investigation into the cause of the crash.
On Sunday morning, Bryant was killed after his private helicopter slammed into the mountainside in Calabasas, California. Although the cause of the crash hasn't been determined at this point, it appears that the chopper was flying in foggy conditions when it crashed at about 1,400 feet while going 185 mph. According to reports, the impact instantly killed everyone on board and sent debris flying hundreds of feet.
Other choppers, such as those belonging to the Los Angeles police department, chose to stay grounded in the foggy weather. However, Bryant's helicopter received what is called Special Visual Flight Rules clearance -- meaning they had permission to fly despite the fog.
After flying for several minutes, flight control contacted the pilot and warned him that the helicopter was flying too low. Just before the accident, flight control asked the pilot for "flight following," which means the control tower wanted to be in regular contact with the pilot. Shortly after, the tower lost radio contact.
Los Angeles Police Sergeant Yvette Tuning said that LAPD helicopters are typically grounded during the kind of weather that Bryant's helicopter was flying under. Despite having clear skies on the previous days leading up to the accident, the police sergeant said that she knew helicopters wouldn't be flying when she came into work on Sunday.
"But yesterday when I came to work I immediately saw it as I came down into the valley, that it was just socked in," said Tuning. "So I already knew we weren't going to be flying unless it burned off quick. And it did not burn off quick."As The Inquisitr previously reported, it is unlikely that the helicopter crashed due to mechanical failure. Kurt Deetz, a pilot who has flown for the NBA star in the past, weighed in on the crash.
"The likelihood of a catastrophic twin engine failure on that aircraft — it just doesn't happen," said Deetz in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.
"All the signs point to a CFIT [controlled flight into terrain] which is when an aircraft under the complete control of a pilot is inadvertently flown into the land, sea, or a building," said another expert.