Kobe Bryant Crash: NTSB Moving Closer to Releasing Preliminary Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board is moving closer to releasing its preliminary findings in the helicopter crash that killed Los Angles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and eight others including his 13-year old daughter Gianna according to the Los Angeles Times. Officials have reported the helicopter slammed into the hillside just before crashing. The Los Angeles Times also took a look at "what we know" about the crash.

"The pilot, Ara Zobayan, requested special visual flight rules, or VFR, which allow pilots to fly in controlled airspace when ceilings are less than 1,000 feet or when visibility is less than three miles," The LA Times wrote. "As weather conditions deteriorated on the trip to Ventura County, the pilot requested 'flight following,' a process in which controllers are in regular contact with an aircraft and can help navigate."

It was reported the helicopter was at 2,300 feet before it descended and lost communication with air traffic controllers. It was descending at 2,000 feet per minute.

"The debris field is pretty extensive," Jennifer Homendy of the National Transportation Safety Board said. "A piece of the tail is down the hill, The fuselage is on the other side of that hill. And then the main rotor is about 100 yards (91 meters) beyond that."

"The pilot advised they were climbing to avoid a cloud layer," Homendy added. "When ATC asked what the pilot planned to do, there was no reply. Radar data indicates the helicopter climbed to 2,300 feet (701 meters) and then began a left descending turn. Last radar contact was around 9:45 a.m."

911 was called two minutes later. Some experts said the helicopter shouldn't have been in the air because of the foggy conditions.

"If you're flying visually, if you get caught in a situation where you can't see out the windshield, the life expectancy of the pilot and the aircraft is maybe 10, 15 seconds, and it happens all the time, and it's really a shame," Randy Waldman, a helicopter flight instructor in the area told the Associated Press.

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Bryant was a member of the Los Angeles Lakers from 1996-2016. During his time with the Lakers, he led the team to five NBA Championships and he was named to the All-Star team 18 times.