February 8, 2020 | 10:27am
A part of the wreckage of a helicopter crash that killed Kobe near Calabasas, Calif. AP
The helicopter carrying Kobe and Gianna Bryant was just 12 seconds from clearing thick fog when it crashed into the Calabasas hillside, according to federal investigators.
Pilot Ara Zobayan was 100 feet away from exiting heavy cloud cover when, instead of continuing to increase altitude, he made a left turn and crashed into the terrain at 180 mph, according to a preliminary report released Friday by the National Transportation Safety Board.
“If you exit the bottom of the clouds at 4,000 feet per minute at that high speed, you’ve certainly lost control of the aircraft,” air safety consultant Kipp Lau said. “Once you break out of the clouds it’s clear. Everything lines up with the body.”
Another aviation expert said Zobayan was likely attempting a maneuver to quickly clear clouds by moving the aircraft up and forward, but made a fatal error with the left turn.
“When he went into the clouds, he had a full on emergency,” pilot Mike Sagely said, noting that turning during the pop-up maneuver is “catastrophic . . . 80 to 90 percent of the time.”
Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter were on their way to his Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks on Jan. 26 when the chopper crashed, killing the pair and seven others on board.
With Post wires