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(Topic ID: 260731)

I want to set the record straight about Kobe's death


By tscottn

8 months ago



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#1 8 months ago

Hey Guys and Gals,

I want to share some info with you guys about what happened with regards to the heli crash that killed Kobe and others. Just for a little background, I am employed by a very large aero-medical provider here in California as a Medivac Pilot in the Central Valley. I fly medical helicopters with a crew consisting of a nurse, flight medic, etc. I am a SPIFR ( single pilot instrument flight rules ) pilot and have flown about 8k hours total time in helos, and around 3000 in the medical field with about 1500 of that 3k being in Cali, so I feel I know the wx patterns pretty good. .

On the morning in question I rolled into work at around 0530 to start my 12 hour duty day shift. First thing I do when I come in is log into our systems and obtain and/or sign the necessary paperwork for me to be legal to fly that day. The next thing I do is check weather. I do this right away because I don’t want to be caught off guard if an early flight comes my way. After that I do a preflight on the helo. By this time my crew and I have had our coffee and are ready to sit for our morning briefing. During my brief I will start off with weather for the day since this is the most important thing for them to hear.

After briefing weather for the local area, next up was weather for the flights to LA and SF. When looking at LA area wx for the day I noted to my crew that we would only be flying IFR to anywhere around that area since weather was foggy and getting over the grapevine and transitioning down into the Las Angeles area would take us through low cloud layers. I also noted to the crew that the low ceilings were probably going to be around that area most of the day so it’s an IFR or no go situation. This meant that while it was possible to transition to get a Special VFR clearance to transition to a hospital heli pad after we made our approach to the airport and broke out of the clouds, it probably wouldn't be something I would do since the cloud layer was below the mountain tops and below by personal minimums for something like this. Given this fact, the crew understood that if we were to take a IFR flight from the valley into LA area, I would most likely be stopping at Burbank or Van Nuys airport and they would have to ground the patient the rest of the way in an ambulance. This sucks for them because I know how much longer these calls can take when you have to do ground legs and you can’t just fly pad to pad between hospitals. However this is common practice this time of year in California for us since fog and low ceilings usually get the best of us and we have to come up with alternatives to make the fight a safe one. The other possibility is we just don’t go at all. I’m ok with this as well as I always tell my crew that MY job is not to care about the patient, it is to make sure myself and my crew are safe and come home to our family's each and every day. The patient is their issue and if I can make the flight happen and keep everyone safe, then OK. But if there is an inkling that things can go wrong, then I’m going to sit my arse at the base and watch a movie. That’s just the way it is.

So given all this information with everything I just said, after reviewing the accident and what happened, and all the flight data as well as the ATC recordings between the pilot and the control towers right before the crash, I have no doubt in my mind that this happened due to inclement weather, as well as the pilots inability to land at the airport and let Kobe and the rest of his passengers get a ground transport to the place they were going. This part really infuriates me to no end. When you listen to the ATC recordings I know exactly what is going on in the pilots head. I know that he doesn't want to look bad in the eyes of his high profile passengers and have to tell them he can’t make it all the way to their destination. They are counting on him to get them there and he’s going to make this flight happen no matter what. He also doesn't want to admit that he should have never accepted the flight in the first place. And I am sure that if he did turn it down there would be another pilot right behind him willing to fly Kobe to his destination and save the day!

I also know that if he did just that and turned the flight down and someone else stepped up and made the flight happen (maybe because they were just lucky, left a few minutes later or earlier, flew a little slower or faster or for some other reason that we will never know) and the flight did arrive at the intended destination safely, this pilot that turned it down would look bad in the eyes of his employer and himself, and that’s just something he is not willing to accept.
I can tell you that I know for a fact, ego, macho attitude and a "it won’t happen to me" way of thinking is what got this pilot in over his head. It was most likely very low visibility at his altitude and before he knew it was inside a cloud layer of dense fog. Once that happened his first instinct would be to climb and get away from the ground. This is a normal and practiced technique, however because he was surrounded by mountains he most likely panicked and tried to climb very fast. At this point he either got disoriented as to which way was up or he pulled way to much pitch, slowed the helo down way to much during the climb, and due to the drag that would have been placed on the rotor system given the amount of pitch he would have had to pull to climb that fast he stalled the rotor system, which then the only way to recover is to enter a autorotation. At this point hitting the side of a mountain was inevitable.

This is probably very heavy stuff for this forum and probably too heavy for most people who do not fly to understand, and I dont want anyone to think that I feel I know more or better than anyone else, I've had my share of shit happening to me as well but somehow was lucky enough to live through them and learn from those moments. But to be candid here, I have seen this accident happen many times over. I lost my own crew to a helicopter accident about five years ago. Same thing. CFIT (controlled flight into terrain) in foggy weather in a VFR only aircraft. Before that I lost two other coworkers to heli accidents in the medical field about ten years prior. I’m sick to my stomach at the moment over these accidents. Maybe I just needed to vent and I appreciate if you have read this far.

By the way, helicopters such as a S76B (which is a proven helicopter and a good IFR platform) just don’t fall out of the sky for mechanical reasons. It’s perfectly capable of flying on one engine sustained flight to get to an airport. We train for emergencies like that all the time. Obviously we all must wait for the NTSB to do their thing along with the FAA and Sikorsky. However this was weather related coupled with the pilot’s inability to land the damn helo and walk away with a bruised ego. It just is! I’ve seen it before and probably will again unfortunately. And one more thing, the greatest thing about a helicopter verses a fixed wing aircraft is its ability to land anywhere at any time. We don’t need runways or roads or any long straight areas that will give us enough room to come to a stop. All we need is just a small open field, parking lot, schoolyard, or any other suitable area. Unfortunately human error will always rear its ugly head given the right conditions.

Thanks for listening to this guy’s rant. I just needed to vent a bit. Now back to our regularly scheduled pinball topics...

#2 8 months ago

Damn

#3 8 months ago

Great info.

But I can't help wondering why anyone would choose to commute via helicopter at all? It's just not worth the risk on even a bluebird day.

Emergency Flight to the ER, sure. To avoid some traffic? No.

#4 8 months ago
Quoted from guitarded:

Great info.
But I can't help wondering why anyone would choose to commute via helicopter at all? It's just not worth the risk on even a bluebird day.
Emergency Flight to the ER, sure. To avoid some traffic? No.

Have you ever been to LA?!

“Some traffic” is about 40 percent of your daily life. Kobe Rich is how you avoid it.

11
#5 8 months ago
Quoted from CrazyLevi:

Have you ever been to LA?!

Yep.

Sorry. Gravity is a cruel mistress. I'm betting Kobe would have paid just about anything to be sitting in traffic right now.

#6 8 months ago
Quoted from tscottn:

Hey Guys and Gals,
I want to share some info with you guys about what happened with regards to the heli crash that killed Kobe and others. Just for a little background, I am employed by a very large aero-medical provider here in California as a Medivac Pilot in the Central Valley. I fly medical helicopters with a crew consisting of a nurse, flight medic, etc. I am a SPIFR ( single pilot instrument flight rules ) pilot and have flown about 8k hours total time in helos, and around 3000 in the medical field with about 1500 of that 3k being in Cali, so I feel I know the wx patterns pretty good. .
On the morning in question I rolled into work at around 0530 to start my 12 hour duty day shift. First thing I do when I come in is log into our systems and obtain and/or sign the necessary paperwork for me to be legal to fly that day. The next thing I do is check weather. I do this right away because I don’t want to be caught off guard if an early flight comes my way. After that I do a preflight on the helo. By this time my crew and I have had our coffee and are ready to sit for our morning briefing. During my brief I will start off with weather for the day since this is the most important thing for them to hear.
After briefing weather for the local area, next up was weather for the flights to LA and SF. When looking at LA area wx for the day I noted to my crew that we would only be flying IFR to anywhere around that area since weather was foggy and getting over the grapevine and transitioning down into the Las Angeles area would take us through low cloud layers. I also noted to the crew that the low ceilings were probably going to be around that area most of the day so it’s an IFR or no go situation. This meant that while it was possible to transition to get a Special VFR clearance to transition to a hospital heli pad after we made our approach to the airport and broke out of the clouds, it probably wouldn't be something I would do since the cloud layer was below the mountain tops and below by personal minimums for something like this. Given this fact, the crew understood that if we were to take a IFR flight from the valley into LA area, I would most likely be stopping at Burbank or Van Nuys airport and they would have to ground the patient the rest of the way in an ambulance. This sucks for them because I know how much longer these calls can take when you have to do ground legs and you can’t just fly pad to pad between hospitals. However this is common practice this time of year in California for us since fog and low ceilings usually get the best of us and we have to come up with alternatives to make the fight a safe one. The other possibility is we just don’t go at all. I’m ok with this as well as I always tell my crew that MY job is not to care about the patient, it is to make sure myself and my crew are safe and come home to our family's each and every day. The patient is their issue and if I can make the flight happen and keep everyone safe, then OK. But if there is an inkling that things can go wrong, then I’m going to sit my arse at the base and watch a movie. That’s just the way it is.
So given all this information with everything I just said, after reviewing the accident and what happened, and all the flight data as well as the ATC recordings between the pilot and the control towers right before the crash, I have no doubt in my mind that this happened due to inclement weather, as well as the pilots inability to land at the airport and let Kobe and the rest of his passengers get a ground transport to the place they were going. This part really infuriates me to no end. When you listen to the ATC recordings I know exactly what is going on in the pilots head. I know that he doesn't want to look bad in the eyes of his high profile passengers and have to tell them he can’t make it all the way to their destination. They are counting on him to get them there and he’s going to make this flight happen no matter what. He also doesn't want to admit that he should have never accepted the flight in the first place. And I am sure that if he did turn it down there would be another pilot right behind him willing to fly Kobe to his destination and save the day!
I also know that if he did just that and turned the flight down and someone else stepped up and made the flight happen (maybe because they were just lucky, left a few minutes later or earlier, flew a little slower or faster or for some other reason that we will never know) and the flight did arrive at the intended destination safely, this pilot that turned it down would look bad in the eyes of his employer and himself, and that’s just something he is not willing to accept.
I can tell you that I know for a fact, ego, macho attitude and a "it won’t happen to me" way of thinking is what got this pilot in over his head. It was most likely very low visibility at his altitude and before he knew it was inside a cloud layer of dense fog. Once that happened his first instinct would be to climb and get away from the ground. This is a normal and practiced technique, however because he was surrounded by mountains he most likely panicked and tried to climb very fast. At this point he either got disoriented as to which way was up or he pulled way to much pitch, slowed the helo down way to much during the climb, and due to the drag that would have been placed on the rotor system given the amount of pitch he would have had to pull to climb that fast he stalled the rotor system, which then the only way to recover is to enter a autorotation. At this point hitting the side of a mountain was inevitable.
This is probably very heavy stuff for this forum and probably too heavy for most people who do not fly to understand, and I dont want anyone to think that I feel I know more or better than anyone else, I've had my share of shit happening to me as well but somehow was lucky enough to live through them and learn from those moments. But to be candid here, I have seen this accident happen many times over. I lost my own crew to a helicopter accident about five years ago. Same thing. CFIT (controlled flight into terrain) in foggy weather in a VFR only aircraft. Before that I lost two other coworkers to heli accidents in the medical field about ten years prior. I’m sick to my stomach at the moment over these accidents. Maybe I just needed to vent and I appreciate if you have read this far.
By the way, helicopters such as a S76B (which is a proven helicopter and a good IFR platform) just don’t fall out of the sky for mechanical reasons. It’s perfectly capable of flying on one engine sustained flight to get to an airport. We train for emergencies like that all the time. Obviously we all must wait for the NTSB to do their thing along with the FAA and Sikorsky. However this was weather related coupled with the pilot’s inability to land the damn helo and walk away with a bruised ego. It just is! I’ve seen it before and probably will again unfortunately. And one more thing, the greatest thing about a helicopter verses a fixed wing aircraft is its ability to land anywhere at any time. We don’t need runways or roads or any long straight areas that will give us enough room to come to a stop. All we need is just a small open field, parking lot, schoolyard, or any other suitable area. Unfortunately human error will always rear its ugly head given the right conditions.
Thanks for listening to this guy’s rant. I just needed to vent a bit. Now back to our regularly scheduled pinball topics...

I really appreciated your rant, it makes perfect sense to me. Thank you

#7 8 months ago

Wow, it definitely makes sense to me, thanks for the information

#8 8 months ago

VFR prop pilot here who earned my wings flying in Los Angeles airspace. Thank you for your cogent and well informed opinion. I heard fog and had an immediate bad feeling that the cause was pilot error. What a tragedy.

#9 8 months ago

Unfortunate for everyone involved. Definitely should have kept the bird grounded due to conditions, but hindsight is always 20/20. Sad tragedy...

#11 8 months ago

To a layman from the LA area, immediately afterward it seemed reasonable to think this was caused by low visibility weather that very likely included at the minimum marginal decisions on the part of the pilot. You have provided as a reputable source a lengthy and detailed, and still succinct, explanation of exactly why this is most likely what happened. Much appreciated. This is a sad punctuation on a sad event. What I mean by that is, this didn’t have to happen.

#12 8 months ago

Excellent post. Thanks for your insights. It’s a sad story for all involved.

#13 8 months ago

Appreciate the explanation. I've rapelled out of a few choppers in the day, hung underneath a few, and rode many a medical transport, and they always scared the crap out of me.....lol. It's not that i wouldn't fly in one, but rather i always respected their limitations, the same as with any other aircraft. When i was small, my dad was a commander of the state civil air patrol wing, and one of my earliest memories was riding along while they were doing a ground search for a down fixed wing in a heavy fog. We lived next to a rural airport, and we located the plane less than a mile from our house. Pretty traumatic as a young boy, but as bad as it was, the pilot lived but he never flew again.

I say that because I question why the passengers agreed to take the chopper with fog in the area? I have to assume the ground conditions were such that none of the passengers were aware of the low ceiling? Just curious, and since you were in the area, you could say for sure. Monday morning quarterbacks are always right, but I can say for sure I would never jump on any small aircraft with fog in the area, no matter how confident the pilot was.

#14 8 months ago

Your thoughts definitely shed some clearer light on the situation. I hate to say it, but Van Nuys airport to T. O., in ground transportation would not have taken that long, at that time of the morning on a Sunday. Ughhhhhh

#15 8 months ago

Thank you for your post. It's times like this that we should reflect on who our heroes are. Yes he could throw a ball through a hoop,but does that really make him a hero?If the o p had crashed saving someone's life it would have been just another tragic chopper crash and lasted 5 minutes in the news. Who really are the heroes in our society.????

#16 8 months ago

Very informative and pretty spot on as to probably what happened and what the NTSB will conclude. Coming from a family where my father-in-law and daughter flew helicopters (Enstrom, Eurocopter, Robinson) I'm aware of how weather plays a role in both IFR and VFR conditions but also the capabilities of not only the rotorcraft, but the pilot as well.

#17 8 months ago

Calabasas is only 13 miles from Thousand Oaks and isn't in "L.A."

I drive it often and it's rare when there's any traffic. It's a 15 minute drive.

Quoted from CrazyLevi:

Have you ever been to LA?!
“Some traffic” is about 40 percent of your daily life. Kobe Rich is how you avoid it.

#18 8 months ago
Quoted from PismoArcade:

Calabasas is only 13 miles from Thousand Oaks and isn't in "L.A."
I drive it often and it's rare when there's any traffic. It's a 15 minute drive.

They took off from Orange County Airport. That’s Over 75 miles to Thousand Oaks, through the middle of LA.

#19 8 months ago
Quoted from Black_Knight:

They took off from Orange County Airport. That’s Over 75 miles to Thousand Oaks, through the middle of LA.

Didn't know that....thanks.

#20 8 months ago

Was this pilot his frequent pilot? Meaning was there really another pilot willing to fly if he did not? Sorry don't know the details...

#21 8 months ago

Wow man. That really makes sense. Horrible, but makes sense.

My experience with egos isn't as tragic as helicopter crashes but when I did tree work certain climbers would climb through anything just to be "cool". I would watch this one guy holding on in wind gusts while us ground guys didn't know where the limbs would land. It's sad that people need to die due to a macho ego.

#22 8 months ago

A great rant, thank you for sharing an appropriate perspective!

#23 8 months ago

I find a lot of similarities between this accident and the death of Michael Jackson. In both cases an individual turned a blind eye towards their training and to safety to do what their massively wealthy employer wanted. The physician who was responsible for Jackson’s death knew Propofol was not a drug that should be used for common insomnia and I suspect this pilot knew he shouldn’t be flying in that weather. Money blinds people to many things.

Unfortunately both wealthy men paid with their lives.

#24 8 months ago

I’m always watching those shows of why planes crash. Seems most of the time it’s pilot error. Sounds just like Air France nest Brazil and JFK Jr. Panicking leads to crashes.

As someone who doesn’t know helicopters, would it have been possible for the pilot to have stopped his forward motion and just go straight up to a safer altitude?

#25 8 months ago

This has been discussed in length on our auto repair forum as how we are professionals and when a customer makes an uneducated decision about repairs, we must inform them of the misconceptions or decline doing the repairs altogether. This is a pilot that should have informed Kobe that the flight was too damn dangerous due to the weather and should have refused the flight.

Money and power outweighed rationality and now we have 9 dead. We can blame the weather all we want, but the bottom line was a professional pilot that did not stand his ground. This accident was 100% human error.

tscottn , thank you for the informative post AND your professional service!

#26 8 months ago
Quoted from Trekkie1978:

As someone who doesn’t know helicopters, would it have been possible for the pilot to have stopped his forward motion and just go straight up to a safer altitude?

OP discussed that:

Quoted from tscottn:

Once that happened his first instinct would be to climb and get away from the ground. This is a normal and practiced technique, however because he was surrounded by mountains he most likely panicked and tried to climb very fast. At this point he either got disoriented as to which way was up or he pulled way to much pitch, slowed the helo down way to much during the climb, and due to the drag that would have been placed on the rotor system given the amount of pitch he would have had to pull to climb that fast he stalled the rotor system, which then the only way to recover is to enter a autorotation. At this point hitting the side of a mountain was inevitable.

#27 8 months ago
Quoted from Atari_Daze:

OP discussed that:

Sorry, what I meant was stop the helicopter from moving in any direction and just slowly climb straight up.

The way I read it, is that the helicopter was still going straight and going up too fast, thus, he was forced to pitch it down to regain control.

#28 8 months ago

I was telling my wife last night that Kobe and his daughter were unfortunately victims of his own wealth and celebrity, because "regular" people like us would have had to drive.

A great loss.

#29 8 months ago

So were reports of impact at +/- 180mph true? Why would he be at those speeds given conditions. I assume a craft of that expense would have a black box or not? Would be interesting to see if throttle was open and when it was applied.

#30 8 months ago
Quoted from pinzrfun:

I was telling my wife last night that Kobe and his daughter were unfortunately victims of his own wealth and celebrity, because "regular" people like us would have had to drive.
A great loss.

Air travel (even by helicopter) is still much safer than traveling by automobile. He could have just as easily died in a car crash. It's just an unfortunate accident. I know living in a colder climate where there's snow and ice that there have been times where I've driven during ice storms and blizzards that I shouldn't have. Every time it's a risk you take. You can't always take your life for granted, at any time it could be over.

#31 8 months ago
Quoted from Trekkie1978:

Sorry, what I meant was stop the helicopter from moving in any direction and just slowly climb straight up.
The way I read it, is that the helicopter was still going straight and going up too fast, thus, he was forced to pitch it down to regain control.

Quoted from Phat_Jay:

So were reports of impact at +/- 180mph true? Why would he be at those speeds given conditions.

Good questions. I was thinking these things as well. If the pilot was disoriented and perhaps in a panic, why would he be flying at such a high rate of speed? Unless that report was not accurate.

#32 8 months ago
Quoted from vdojaq:

This is a pilot that should have informed Kobe that the flight was too damn dangerous due to the weather and should have refused the flight.

Quoted from tscottn:

And I am sure that if he did turn it down there would be another pilot right behind him willing to fly Kobe to his destination and save the day!

#33 8 months ago

Did my share of this type of flying, under pressure to get someone important to some unimportant meeting. Pilot lost control of the aircraft, his surroundings and crashed into the ground. Seen it happen many times. Happens more often than people realize. You have to know when to call it a day and go home.

There is no excuse for crashing a helicopter. You can land it virtually anywhere and live to fly another day. I am still here thanks to experienced Vietnam veterans teaching me how to fly safely while pushing the limits.

If you push the limits often enough, it will eventually catch up to you!

#34 8 months ago

I think Kobe enjoyed traveling by helicopter as much as possible.

I used to fly many sports team charters over the years. I recall doing a few Lakers charters and coming in late at night to LA and dropping the team off. On the ramp area next to our plane, most of the players had parked their vehicles when they arrived the day before. From the cockpit, we would watch them climb into their Escalades, Land Rovers, sports cars, etc to go back home, but Kobe always had a helicopter waiting for him.

Like the OP, I think this helicopter pilot put too much pressure on himself and over estimated his skills. Trying to ‘impress’ his customers and his employer, got him into a hole in which there was no way out.

#35 8 months ago
Quoted from LukyDuck:

Did my share of this type of flying, under pressure to get someone important to some unimportant meeting. Pilot lost control of the aircraft, his surroundings and crashed into the ground. Seen it happen many times. Happens more often than people realize. You have to know when to call it a day and go home.
There is no excuse for crashing a helicopter. You can land it virtually anywhere and live to fly another day. I am still here thanks to experienced Vietnam veterans teaching me how to fly safely while pushing the limits.
If you push the limits often enough, it will eventually catch up to you!

We always referred to this as "get-there-itis"; claims A LOT more than it ever should.

-15
#36 8 months ago

OP: "I can tell you that I know for a fact, ego, macho attitude and a "it won’t happen to me" way of thinking is what got this pilot in over his head."

For a fact, huh? It must be nice to be Dr. Manhattan.

This forum really is hilarious.

#37 8 months ago
Quoted from SheriffBarclay:

OP:
For a fact, huh? It must be nice to be Dr. Manhattan.
This forum really is hilarious.

I just have one question. Are you a helicopter pilot?

#38 8 months ago

OP seems to be 100% correct. Have you ever wondered why so many bands & other VIP type people die in air related crashes. It is really very simple - 90% of the time it is because they have money and want to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible. Sometimes pilots take unnecessary risks trying to keep these people happy. Odds are this will end up being one of those cases.

#39 8 months ago

I am also a commercial pilot. 100% agree with you. I fly folks for a multitude of reasons but as the PIC, your passengers life is your responsibility. He should have declared to get priority landing at Van Nuys.

Aviate
Navigate
Communicate

Unfortunately he failed in one way shape or form in all 3 facets

#40 8 months ago
Quoted from Phat_Jay:

I assume a craft of that expense would have a black box or not? Would be interesting to see if throttle was open and when it was applied.

News has reported that there was no black box on board. I have no idea if that would be the norm, or if the black box had been removed for some reason. Perhaps OP will know.

#41 8 months ago
Quoted from pinzrfun:

I was telling my wife last night that Kobe and his daughter were unfortunately victims of his own wealth and celebrity, because "regular" people like us would have had to drive.
A great loss.

Seriously? So the fact that he could afford to take a helicopter put him on a collision course with death and put himself, his family and others at unnecessary risk?

What if he had a driver take him and the driver got into an accident and everyone died? Would that be because he didn't drive himself? What if he did and the same thing happened? Would we question why he'd be driving himself instead of paying a "professional" to get him where he wanted to go?

1.25 million people die every year in road crashes, by the way.... Seems to me like "wealth and celebrity" probably reduce your chances of this happening.

Really unfortunate, especially if it could have been avoided. But putting this on his wealth in any way is pretty dumb.

#42 8 months ago

It’s becoming apparent that the weather was not safe for flying into the area they were going to.

A better analogy would have been if he had a driver who was taking him somewhere during an ice storm and the roads were too hazardous but the driver took him anyway.

This was apparently a pilot that routinely flew Bryant to his destinations and so yeah, I’m sure the pilot felt some additional pressure to keep Bryant happy and flew when he shouldn’t have.

#43 8 months ago

Not sure if already posted this was from the AP article on the crash, sounds like the OP of this thread is spot on:

https://apnews.com/d5769dce7e07abcb79ec44474c262a9a

“A lot of times somebody who’s doing it for a living is pressured to get their client to where they have to go,” Waldman said. “They take chances that maybe they shouldn’t take.”

“ The aircraft crashed about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northwest of downtown Los Angeles. When it struck the ground, it was flying at about 184 mph (296 kph) and descending at a rate of more than 4,000 feet per minute, according to data from Flightradar24.”

#44 8 months ago
Quoted from Concretehardt:

Not sure if already posted this was from the AP article on the crash, sounds like the OP of this thread is spot on:
https://apnews.com/d5769dce7e07abcb79ec44474c262a9a
“A lot of times somebody who’s doing it for a living is pressured to get their client to where they have to go,” Waldman said. “They take chances that maybe they shouldn’t take.”
“ The aircraft crashed about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northwest of downtown Los Angeles. When it struck the ground, it was flying at about 184 mph (296 kph) and descending at a rate of more than 4,000 feet per minute, according to data from Flightradar24.”

I’m pretty sure that the speed was more or less normal-ish because aircraft move a lot faster than cars.
However he was really dropping altitude very rapidly, wasn’t he? sad for all on board.
I see some folks are angry cuz of the fact that his regular use of helicopters contributed to this.
It’s the same as if he had a regular chauffeur. He flew a lot and the more often you do something the more likely to run into a bad situation due to the law of probability.

Unfortunately, and unintentionally, the pilot was his regular and wanted to please Kobe and Kobe probably completely trusted the pilot.
It’s just a communication breakdown that sometimes leads people into dangerous situations.

#45 8 months ago

Great post and incite. Think everyone would feel better if the crash had happened without any warning to the passengers, but it sounds like maybe they stalled, giving them time to realize what was going on, that sure is sad to think about.

Thanks for what you do, i have been in the fire service for 15 years and we fly most traumas due to the proximity of the closest trauma center, i have probably been on over 100 calls that we have flown the patient out, and to this day i am still in awe of the work you and your crew does. Always a good feeling when you see that bird landing on a shitty call!

#46 8 months ago

An awful lot of assumptions being made.

We really don’t know what happened, we don’t know if it was a pushy celeb or an irresponsible pilot. I appreciate the insight of people in the know on this stuff, as air safety is interesting stuff. I think we can all wait a week for the prelim NTSB report, and the final one after that.

Sometimes shit happens. When I’m a billionaire I’ll be sure to tell my personal helicopter pilot to exercise extreme caution and never listen to me if I’m telling him to fly when he shouldn’t.

I was on a private jet flight recently, the trip there was pretty bumpy. The flight back we postponed till the next morning as it was stormy and windy and some parties in our flight were pretty squeamish. I do think the pilot would have made the flight if we insisted upon it. Whether or not the flight would have been any less safe I have no idea - that’s definitely the pilot’s job.

#47 8 months ago
Quoted from Isochronic_Frost:

Unfortunately, and unintentionally, the pilot was his regular and wanted to please Kobe and Kobe probably completely trusted the pilot. It’s just a communication breakdown that sometimes leads people into dangerous situations.

OP's post was brilliant. But that observation about implied trust and bravado is important. Because if I were in the position of Kobe where my longtime, trusted pilot is now telling me "Sorry, not today..." I would probably be inclined to listen. Have to wonder if Kobe pressured the pilot, or the pilot was not even concerned... and we'll never know for sure.

But it's hard to cast stones in either case. The other analogy about driving in bad or icy weather is an excellent one. I would say that's arguably even more dangerous than flying in fog, yet I'm willing to bet almost everyone reading this has done it at least once, and even with collateral lives at stake (other traffic perhaps if nobody else), and even without the pressure of impressing a client or meeting an "important" deadline. You never know what may happen, or how much luck you have until it runs out.

What's sad to me is the only reason we're talking about this is because of Kobe. Otherwise a chopper crash with 9 aboard makes the news cycle for half a day at best and that's it.

#48 8 months ago

Would it not be possible when disoriented to just make a very slow controlled scent straight down? Presumably the pilot knew his altitude from instrumentation but was blinded by fog, in which case just go down slowly until you see land. I drive that stretch all the time and indeed drove through that stretch that day, and while fog was heavy the ground would have still been visible once he got closer to it, as evidenced by the fact that we were all still able to drive that day. Eyewitness reports show that he was already hovering very close to the ground prior to the crash so why not just make a very slow decent straight down? I dunno, the whole thing seems so confusing.

#49 8 months ago
Quoted from Reality_Studio:

Would it not be possible when disoriented to just make a very slow controlled scent straight down? Presumably the pilot knew his altitude from instrumentation but was blinded by fog, in which case just go down slowly until you see land. I drive that stretch all the time and indeed drove through that stretch that day, and while fog was heavy the ground would have still been visible once he got closer to it, as evidenced by the fact that we were all still able to drive that day. Eyewitness reports show that he was already hovering very close to the ground prior to the crash so why not just make a very slow decent straight down? I dunno, the whole thing seems so confusing.

That seems reasonable.

#50 8 months ago
Quoted from Reality_Studio:

Would it not be possible when disoriented to just make a very slow controlled scent straight down?

If the fog is that dense you may not know about tree canopies, rock outcroppings, or other obstructions below you, relative to your altitude reading. None of those play nice with spinning rotors. Snag one hard enough and your descent quickly becomes uncontrolled. Even choppers that were "only" less than a hundred feet in the air at slow descent have been slammed to the ground when clipping a mere guy wire.

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