Report: Kobe Bryant pilot may have been disoriented in fog

U.S. & World

FILE – In this March 2, 2019, file photo, Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna watch the first half of an NCAA college basketball game between Connecticut and Houston in Storrs, Conn. Autopsy reports released Friday, May 15, 2020, show that the pilot who flew Bryant did not have drugs or alcohol in his system when the helicopter crashed in Southern California in January, killing all nine aboard. The causes of death for Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, pilot Ara Zobayan and the others have been ruled blunt force trauma. Federal authorities are still investigating the Jan. 26 incident where the chopper crashed into the Calabasas hillsides. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The pilot of the helicopter that crashed in thick fog, killing Kobe Bryant and seven other passengers, reported he was climbing when he actually was descending, federal investigators said in documents released Wednesday.

Ara Zobayan radioed to air traffic controllers that he was climbing to 4,000 feet (1,220 meters) to get above clouds on Jan. 26 when, in fact, the helicopter was plunging toward a hillside where it crashed northwest of Los Angeles.

The report by the National Transportation Safety Board said Zobayan may have “misperceived” the pitch of the aircraft, which can happen when a pilot becomes disoriented in low visibility.

Experts have said the path of the flight indicated Zobayan was disoriented.

The 1,700 pages of reports do not offer a conclusion of what caused the crash but compile factual reports. A final report on the cause is due later.

Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and six of their friends were killed, along with Zobayan.

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Associated Press journalists David Koenig in Dallas, and Stefanie Dazio and Christopher Weber in Los Angeles contributed.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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