Pilot in Kobe Bryant crash was likely disoriented: investigator

Washington (AFP) –


The pilot flying the helicopter that crashed last year killing NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter and six other passengers likely became disoriented after flying into clouds, investigators said Tuesday.

The pilot of the chartered Island Express helicopter likely suffered "spatial disorientation," Robert Sumwalt, the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), said at a public hearing into the crash.

Shortly before the crash, the pilot said he was climbing to 4,000 feet but the helicopter was actually in a left turn and descending rapidly, the NTSB said.

"This maneuver is consistent with the pilot experiencing spatial disorientation in limited visibility conditions," Sumwalt said. "He would incorrectly perceive that the helicopter was climbing when it was descending."

Bryant, 41, was traveling with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and six other passengers when the Sikorsky S-76 helicopter slammed into a rugged hillside in Calabasas, west of Los Angeles. There were no survivors.