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  • This is the flight path of the helicopter carrying

  • Kobe Bryant and eight others, which

  • crashed near Los Angeles.

  • It's a common route, spanning an area well-traveled

  • by aircraft every day.

  • So we wanted to understand how, despite this, such

  • an accident could occur.

  • Using a chartered helicopter, flight tracking data

  • and images from the day, we've re-traced the flight path

  • to examine the conditions that may have led to the crash.

  • The helicopter took off from John Wayne Airport

  • in Orange County.

  • Its destination, another airport

  • near the sports academy, which Bryant owned.

  • The first half of the flight is uneventful.

  • The terrain, here in the Los Angeles basin, is flat.

  • That makes it relatively easy to navigate, even

  • in overcast weather.

  • Bryant, himself, made the trip routinely.

  • On the day of the crash, the weather in this area is fine.

  • There's four miles visibility.

  • Within 13 minutes, the helicopter

  • passes by downtown Los Angeles,

  • passes Dodger Stadium and begins

  • to enter the San Fernando Valley.

  • The terrain begins to rise.

  • That day, air controllers tell Bryant's pilot

  • to stay in a holding pattern over the city of Glendale.

  • They circle for more than 10 minutes,

  • as other air traffic is cleared.

  • It's around this time that a retired pilot on the ground

  • happens to film the helicopter overhead.

  • We can see in the footage that the sky

  • is considerably overcast.

  • The pilot received special clearance

  • to continue on in the low-visibility weather

  • and flies into the San Fernando Valley,

  • following the freeway system along the edge

  • of the foothills.

  • We can see the densely populated terrain is still

  • low and flat.

  • The weather for our chartered flight is clear,

  • but images from the day of Bryant's flight

  • show that visibility has become extremely limited.

  • One reason: If we pause and pull up,

  • we can see that the Pacific Ocean is just

  • on the other side of these hills.

  • Cold, moist air coming off the water,

  • and hitting the mountains, can quickly

  • form thick and low cloud cover.

  • With a lower ceiling and higher mountainous terrain,

  • there's now a much smaller path to safely fly.

  • Roughly three minutes before the crash,

  • the helicopter begins flying along Highway 101.

  • It's a common route.

  • The highway is a distinct landmark

  • that's easy to follow, and it runs

  • through a low point in the foothills,

  • making it easier for pilots to stay below cloud cover.

  • Bryant's pilot had requestedflight following,”

  • where controllers track an aircraft to help the pilot

  • during rough conditions.

  • Just before the crash, the ground controller

  • tells the pilot he's too low for tracking.

  • The pilot radios that he's climbing

  • to avoid the cloud layer.

  • The helicopter quickly gains altitude.

  • At about 2,300 feet, it turns away from Highway 101,

  • and crashes into the side of a hill.

  • The debris field is around 500 feet long.

  • Investigators said that the helicopter

  • may have missed clearing the top of the hill

  • by 20 to 30 feet.

  • They still haven't determined a cause for the crash.

This is the flight path of the helicopter carrying

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Kobe Bryant's Last Flight: What We Know About His Helicopter's Route | Visual Investigations

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    Mayu Okuuchi posted on 2020/02/04
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