Kobe Bryant’s helicopter pilot flew into clouds despite being ‘legally prohibited’

The pilot of Kobe Bryant’s helicopter flew into clouds last year in an apparent violation of federal standards, US safety investigators have said.

Ara Zobayan had been flying under visual flight rules on 26 January last year, which meant he needed to be able to see where he was going.

But Robert Sumwalt, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said he was likely to have become disorientated.

Mr Zobayan flew the aircraft to climb sharply and had nearly broken through the clouds when the Sikorsky S-76 helicopter banked abruptly and plunged into the Southern California hills.

The crash killed basketball star Bryant along with eight others, including his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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