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Author Topic: Kobe Bryant Fatal Helicopter Crash  (Read 2890 times)

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Re: Kobe Bryant Fatal Helicopter Crash
« Reply #25 on: January 28, 2020, 10:25:45 PM »
[quote author=calmissile link=topic=24118.msg525939#msg525939 date=1580273474

What still makes no sense to me is why he maintained a forward velocity of 175 MPH in these conditions.  The descent rate is also way steeper than an autorotation.  I really can't make any conclusions without more data.

[/quote]

The Colonel said the pilot, even though flying in fog,  likely felt he was on course to the planned destination, not realizing he was disoriented by vertigo induced by the visual conditions. 

I am just passing this alone;  I don't know a thing about flying helicopters.  I rode in Hueys a few times in Vietnam, and some flights were frightening, especially single craft missions flown by an 18-yo Warrant Officer.    The only time I came under fire in Vietnam was flying in a Huey (one feels very vulnerable).   

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Re: Kobe Bryant Fatal Helicopter Crash
« Reply #26 on: January 29, 2020, 01:43:33 AM »
Your friend could be right, there just isn't enough evidence/data for me to draw any conclusions. 

I still find it troubling that he was descending at a rate up to 4800 FPM (and increasing) for the last 13 seconds BEFORE the crash.  If he was in the clouds, why would someone plunge toward the earth at that rate when he has the ability to slow and even hover under those kind of visibility conditions.  Perhaps the NTSB will come up with a scenario that makes sense sometime in the future.

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Re: Kobe Bryant Fatal Helicopter Crash
« Reply #27 on: January 29, 2020, 09:01:29 AM »
Iím blown away the tribute being given to Kobe beyond the NBA, beyond LA, and now beyond the US. Asia to So America to Europe! Iíve never seen or heard of any athlete being given this much love...

This one is from Italy, where he lived as a child.


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Kobe Bryant Fatal Helicopter Crash
« Reply #28 on: January 29, 2020, 09:28:03 AM »
MSNBC anchor apologizes after appearing to use N-word describing death of Kobe Bryant
http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/msnbc-anchor-apologizes-after-appearing-to-use-n-word-describing-death-of-kobe-bryant
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Re: Kobe Bryant Fatal Helicopter Crash
« Reply #29 on: January 29, 2020, 09:39:33 AM »
Have you forgotten Ali ?

Good point! True.

I've been hearing/reading a lot of pilots and 'experts' use the two words - definition of which that I, and those that surfs, is very familiar with - *Spatial Disorientation*. They seem to think this is what may have happened with Ara Zobayan. Spatial disorientation is what happens when one is so disoriented you can't tell what/where is up from down.

In this accident, the likelier of the two is Somatogravic Ė experiencing linear acceleration/deceleration as climbing/descending. As opposed to: Somatogyral Ė not detecting movement or perceiving movement in a different (mostly opposite) direction to reality. The report indicated the helicopter abruptly climbed up then rapidly descended.

From WIKI: "Spatial-D" is the inability to determine one's position, location, and motion relative to their environment. This phenomenon most commonly affects pilots and underwater divers but also can be induced in normal conditionsóor reproduced in the lab with instruments such as the Barany Chair. In aviation, the term means the inability to correctly interpret aircraft attitude, altitude or airspeed, in relation to the ground or point of reference. This most commonly occurs after a reference point (e.g., the horizon) has been lost. Spatial disorientation, often referred to as 'Spatial-D' by aviators occurs when aircrew's sensory interpretation of their position or motion conflicts with reality..."

Any surfers know when you get caught in a white wash, and as you fight to get a breathe of air as the wave trashes you underneath, you sometimes begin to swim thinking you're heading towards the surface, when you're in fact about to hit bottom.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2020, 10:31:41 AM by GQBlues »
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Re: Kobe Bryant Fatal Helicopter Crash
« Reply #30 on: January 29, 2020, 01:09:51 PM »
GQ, you have provided a very good explanation of Spatial Disorientation as related to what happens when a pilot experiences this condition.

There are a couple points I would like to add about this discussion.  These explanations all refer to how the brain reacts when there is a loss of visual reference to the horizon..  This is an important  distinction.  Vertigo is easily experienced when a pilot is in clouds or no visible reference to the horizon.

This condition and its ramifications are so well known that all pilot training, even the most fundamental private pilot training includes simulated (or real) flying without reference to the horizon.  This is accomplished in both flight simulators and in actual flight 'under the hood'.  In real flight, the student wears a hood that prevents him from seeing outside the cockpit.

This leads to the question 'How does the pilot keep the airplane level and on course when he has lost the visual horizon?  There are a couple answers.  The most crude method is the "needle, ball, and airspeed" method.  Rather than give a complicated answer, let me simply state that this was the oldest method and it relies on the rate of turn instrument and the altimeter.  When the pointer in the rate of turn indicator is centered, the aircraft is not turning.  In other words using the rudder and/or ailerons you can stop a turn and fly straight with this one simple albeit somewhat crude instrument that is a basic flight instrument in all aircraft.  This will allow a disoriented pilot to straighten the course of the plane but does not address the climb/dive condition.  In this case, the pilot uses the altimeter and the rate of climb instruments to adjust the attitude (with elevator control) to place the plane in a level state with respect to ascending or descending.  These are also fundamental instruments in any airplane.  All pilots are trained to use these primary instruments in the event of disorientation or failure of a more sophisticated instrument which I will discuss below.  I heard and read many stories of pilots saving their lives and planes falling back to 'needle ball and airspeed' during zero visibility emergencies.

Prior to World War II, there was a marvelous invention called the "Artificial Horizon'.  Later versions are commonly referred to as a Horizontal Situation Indicator.  Many of you have seen it in photos of cockpits without realizing what it is or what it does.  Generally, it is a larger instrument directly in front of the pilot.  Although there are many versions of how the data is displayed, they all have the common characteristic of providing instantaneous visual reference to the pilot about the roll and pitch angles of the aircraft in reference to the ground.  It is the primary instrument for the pilot to obtain spatial orientation without reference to seeing outside the cockpit.  Artificial Horizon instruments are gyro driven (either air or electrical) and are very reliable instruments.  It should also be noted that autopilots also use this instrument (or a duplicate) for basic autopilot pitch and roll reference.

Now that we have some understanding of the tools the pilots have to avoid or correct spatial disorientation, lets add some perspective that may apply to this accident.
1.  It should be noted that spatial disorientation is a serious condition that face pilots when it happens.  Your inner ear and brain tries very hard to convince you that your aircraft attitude is different than it really is.  It is a physically strenuous task to ignore your senses and force yourself to correct the aircraft attitude based upon the instruments.  I can attest to this personally from training exercises.
2.  It would appear that the helicopter in this case had all of the primary flight instruments.  At least there is no evidence so far that any were defective or inoperable.
3.  The pilot was Instrument Rated.  He was licensed to fly in zero visibility conditions entirely on instruments.
4.  The pilot was rated as a Commercial Pilot which involves even more training and tests than a private pilot or even a private pilot with an instrument rating.
5.  If the pilot became spatially disoriented he presumably had the primary and secondary instruments to rely on to stabilize the aircraft.  In addition, he may have had the autopilot which in 'Attitude' mode would have immediately leveled the helicopter.

With all of these tools available to the pilot and considering his ratings as a Commercial Pilot, Instrument Pilot, and instructor it is hard to fit the medias claims that he simply flew into a mountain due to being in a rush to get to the destination.

While I cannot rule out pilot error, neither can I fit the data into the sequence of events.  There are also many mechanical failures that could have contributed but have not been suggested or any evidence to support.  There are also possibilities that are outside the box that we don't even think about.

I watched a recent investigation on the TV show Air Disasters which showed a good example of a crash cause that was outside the box of normal causes.  In fact it was a fatal helicopter crash and if I remember correctly involved some celebrity or athletes.  As I recall, the helicopter crashed because a girls strap on her backpack managed to turn the fuel selector lever to the "Off" position.

Until there are more details and a full forensic investigation, it is senseless to speculate on the cause of this accident.  The TV pundits and some of their guests are about the least qualified people to address this issue.

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Re: Kobe Bryant Fatal Helicopter Crash
« Reply #31 on: January 29, 2020, 02:00:13 PM »
With all of these tools available to the pilot and considering his ratings as a Commercial Pilot, Instrument Pilot, and instructor it is hard to fit the medias claims that he simply flew into a mountain due to being in a rush to get to the destination.

While I cannot rule out pilot error, neither can I fit the data into the sequence of events.  There are also many mechanical failures that could have contributed but have not been suggested or any evidence to support.  There are also possibilities that are outside the box that we don't even think about.


The helicopter had two engines and there was no mayday call so I'm leaning towards pilot error. I heard the pilot had permission to fly at a higher level but he descended quickly. How did he not know he was falling? I understand he could've lost his whereabouts in fog but he had to have know he is descending while travelling at 150 mph. Better to go than down when one can't see.
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Re: Kobe Bryant Fatal Helicopter Crash
« Reply #32 on: January 29, 2020, 03:32:44 PM »
Calmissile,

Good explanation of  vertigo and disorientation. 

So why didn't the pilot correct his flight based on his instruments, especially after ATC warned him?  My friend (The "Colonel")  said in his one and only experience with vertigo in 20+ years of military flying, he thought he was flying straight when in fact he was banking and about to dive in a roll over before his co-pilot intervened. 

Heard that NTSB reported Kobe's pilot missed clearing the mountain by a mere 20-30 feet.  This is literally a split-second  miss considering the copter was dropping 4,000 FPM at 150 KTS.       

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Re: Kobe Bryant Fatal Helicopter Crash
« Reply #33 on: January 29, 2020, 03:41:53 PM »


While I cannot rule out pilot error, neither can I fit the data into the sequence of events.  There are also many mechanical failures that could have contributed but have not been suggested or any evidence to support.  There are also possibilities that are outside the box that we don't even think about.

I watched a recent investigation on the TV show Air Disasters which showed a good example of a crash cause that was outside the box of normal causes.  In fact it was a fatal helicopter crash and if I remember correctly involved some celebrity or athletes.  As I recall, the helicopter crashed because a girls strap on her backpack managed to turn the fuel selector lever to the "Off" position.
 
I haven't seen anything yet explain why the helicopter was going 170mph.  Isn't that the oddest factor so far?  The pilot could have flipped out for some reason or the accelerator got stuck.   I'd like to hear a reasonable explanation as to why he would be going so fast in those conditions.

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Re: Kobe Bryant Fatal Helicopter Crash
« Reply #34 on: January 29, 2020, 04:03:57 PM »
Calmissile,

Good explanation of  vertigo and disorientation. 

So why didn't the pilot correct his flight based on his instruments, especially after ATC warned him?

One of my remaining questions as well.  Also, the pilot should not have needed any ATC warnings about the weather or terrain.  If he is under VFR conditions as he reported, he can see the terrain.  He cannot go into IFR conditions with no visibility without an IFR clearance which he could not have gotten at that altitude and without radar coverage.

 My friend (The "Colonel")  said in his one and only experience with vertigo in 20+ years of military flying, he thought he was flying straight when in fact he was banking and about to dive in a roll over before his co-pilot intervened.

I am a little surprised that he only experienced vertigo once in 20+ years of flying.  Perhaps it was the only time he experienced it unexpectedly during flight.  I was not a military pilot but I would think the military would periodically INDUCE vertigo as part of recurrent training.  I also suspect that military pilot training is so regimented that pilots are comfortable with continuous flight during instrument conditions.  I really admire the quality of the US military pilots that are depicted in wartime documentaries, etc. 

Heard that NTSB reported Kobe's pilot missed clearing the mountain by a mere 20-30 feet.  This is literally a split-second  miss considering the copter was dropping 4,000 FPM at 150 KTS.

I saw some NTSB 'desk jockeys' making some ridiculous statements on TV today.  For the most part I ignore them.
     
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Re: Kobe Bryant Fatal Helicopter Crash
« Reply #35 on: January 29, 2020, 04:31:41 PM »
Cal-

I don't know if you've been to Universal lately and had actually ridden in their latest 'rides'. It seems to me that most of these rides they have are quasi-simulators. Remember the Back to the Future ride? It assault your senses until you lose/abandon any point of reference and begin relying on 'gut feeling'.

I used the two types of 'spatial disorientation' above which are Somatogravic & Somatogyral.

For somatogravic, you get this 'false perspective' in the ride that you are experiencing an acceleration/deceleration when what is actually happening is the platform is slightly tilting downwards/upwards - and aiding that with an appropriate visual imagery. They get you locked into the 'visual' as it takes over your sense of motion and whereabouts. This is so effective you actually feel it in your gut every time you think you're losing elevation.

Somatogyral is portrayed in this youtube video:


Which is "not detecting movement or perceiving movement in a different (mostly opposite) direction to reality".

Between the two, my guess of what may have happen was the first one, somatogravic.

« Last Edit: January 29, 2020, 04:41:30 PM by GQBlues »
Quote from: msmob
1. Because of 'man', global warming is causing desert and arid areas to suffer long, dry spell.
2. The 2018 Camp Fire and Woolsey California wildfires are forests burning because of global warming.
3. N95 mask will choke you dead after 30 min. of use.

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Re: Kobe Bryant Fatal Helicopter Crash
« Reply #36 on: January 29, 2020, 04:47:09 PM »
Here's an awesome video of spatial disorientation.

[/video]
Quote from: msmob
1. Because of 'man', global warming is causing desert and arid areas to suffer long, dry spell.
2. The 2018 Camp Fire and Woolsey California wildfires are forests burning because of global warming.
3. N95 mask will choke you dead after 30 min. of use.

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Re: Kobe Bryant Fatal Helicopter Crash
« Reply #37 on: January 29, 2020, 05:04:34 PM »

I am a little surprised that he only experienced vertigo once in 20+ years of flying.  Perhaps it was the only time he experienced it unexpectedly during flight. 

I will ask him.  He's much older than me,  the oldest competitive golfer at the club.    We tease him about flying biplanes in WWI.   

BTW, two others in my golf group flew over North Vietnam.  One a pilot for B-52 bombing raids  and also SAM radar jamming craft.  The other was a language specialist who flew off the coast and listened to live chatter of NVA fighter pilots.  His team would use the info in a variety of ways, mostly to identify location of downed American pilots.  He served other roles such as detecting MIGs having mechanical or fuel problems and were returning to base - in such case my friend would dispatch a pair of circling F-4s to intercept them  knowing the MIGs had reduced  capability to evade an attack.   

Many Americans served in the military in those days. 


Quote
I was not a military pilot but I would think the military would periodically INDUCE vertigo as part of recurrent training.  I also suspect that military pilot training is so regimented that pilots are comfortable with continuous flight during instrument conditions.

In contrast, I suspect the Colonel was a seat of the pants pilot who rarely looked at his instruments.  He flew a large number of gunship missions.  Firing rockets, machine guns and grenade launchers from the pilot's seat while receiving ground fire does not involve the precise use of scientific aiming instruments.    If pushed he will admit to being among the "best" with rockets.    In golf, he rarely measures the distance to the pin, relying on his feel. 
« Last Edit: January 29, 2020, 05:06:52 PM by Gator »

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Re: Kobe Bryant Fatal Helicopter Crash
« Reply #38 on: January 29, 2020, 08:00:52 PM »
Here's an awesome video of spatial disorientation.

[/video]
GQ, thanks for posting this video.  It is the best description and demonstration I have seen.  Far better than me trying to explain it to non-pilots.  In fact, the presentation is far more scientific and detailed than the training I received.  I only was in one of those simulators once to induce disorientation.  It was an eye opener and drilled home the message that fly the instruments regardless of your senses.

One of the most difficult parts of instrument training and instrument flying was the fact that without an autopilot you are faced with continually referencing a chart on your lap or yoke, operating the radios and calculating navigation position, time to next fix, etc.  This involves head movement and the video does a great job of explaining why this causes disorientation.

One of the reasons I am not willing to jump on the media bandwagon of disorientation being the cause is because at least for most of the time he was in VFR conditions.  As I recall he reported 1 1/2 mile visibility.  Of course I can't rule it out either, but it is not on the top of my list for possible causes.

Great post and great video.
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Re: Kobe Bryant Fatal Helicopter Crash
« Reply #39 on: January 29, 2020, 08:56:16 PM »
Weíre on a ride-along in NXS78 on that fateful day.


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Re: Kobe Bryant Fatal Helicopter Crash
« Reply #40 on: January 29, 2020, 11:36:33 PM »

GQ, I watched your video in post #5 again. The pilot was talking fine, having a normal conversation with air traffic control and seemed to know his bearing. He reported his altitude at least 3 times from 1400' to 1500'.  After staying hovering in one spot, he was given permission to proceed to which he responded to, 5 seconds later air traffic control tried to talk to him again but he didn't respond. 25 seconds later the crash happened. 30 seconds total from his last words to his last breath. Even if the pilot didn't know which direction he was flying in and at what elevation, he should've responded. I'm wondering if the pilot had another medical issue that prevented him from responding. Heart attack?
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Re: Kobe Bryant Fatal Helicopter Crash
« Reply #41 on: January 30, 2020, 10:34:12 AM »
Billy, of course this is all guesses as no official report had surfaced from NTSB. Itís still an active investigation, so Iíll Ďguessí for the sake of dialogue.

You have a point regarding the last audio transmittal prior to the crash. But this is my guessÖ

The chopper departed from SNA (John Wayne - Irvine) at around 9 AM heading to Camarillo (90 miles out). Maybe Cal know the reason why, but I donít understand why the chopperís flight path didnít go over ocean instead of flying through inland (If you look at the map, youíll see what I mean). Itís obviously a much more direct path than the route that was taken. Anyway, with that route, itíll cross 7 airportís flight path - 7!
-Long Beach, Torrance, Hawthorne, LAX, Sta Monica, Burbank and Van Nuys before hitting Camarillo airport. On a Sunday morning at that time, itís peak hours for small private planes, much less commercial. When it arrived around Burbank airport, the traffic was heavy enough that they got held up on a holding pattern for 15 minutes. This, I believe, is when imminent trouble started mounting. Because of the delay, the weather began to get progressively worst. Fog started to hop over the coast to move in valleys and inlands.

Ara had to fly in circle during the holding pattern for at least 15 minutes. Likely a spatial disorientation scenario. Try circling in your car for 15 minutes even in slow speed, your vestibular (roll, pitch, yaw) & proprioceptive (lean , angular, gravitational) senses will start getting affected. Not as much, the visual follows. The auditory not affected (his communication ability was coherent). When Burbank cleared, he was told to navigate along 5 freeway, then left along 118 freeway. This means itíll involve head movements to make sure heís not only following a path on the ground, he would also need to look at his instrument, the sky as he hovers over two airportís flight paths. A lot of head movement. In the video above, it tells you how heavy head movements affects your sense of lean, angulation and gravitational. Itíll start causing illusionary perception. Again, somatogravic disorientation.

The audio exchange went from Burbankís ATC to Van Nuys, then was transferred to SoCal. By the time it was switched to SoCal, the chopper was already in what is termed Ďthe soupí, which apparently is a condition Cal and pilots call ĎIMCí Instrumental Meteorological Conditioní, but by then, Ara was already subjected to enough spatial disorientation triggers, but is also very likely under what pilots refer to as *get-there-litis*. Ara probably still struggled to get his bearings by trying to establish ground reference, despite being in IFR, by trying to look for the 101 freeway below. Which would explain why he started flying low. From Woodland Hills to 1000 Oaks, the 101 freeway is bounded by Sta Monica mountains to the south, and Simi Hills to the north. The relief varies on both sides, with the southside being the worst of the two sides. Along Valley Parkway to Calabasas to the Las Virgenes Road, the mountain side is fairly variable. Some mountainsides are literally against the freeway.

Low flight path, virtually zero visibility, spatial disorientation, and *get-there-litis* likely caused him to accelerate when he thought he was climbing in that heavy fog. He then tried to pull right in the very last second..

Cal, obviously, is much more of an authority in this and he already said that based on Araís experience and qualification, while he will not rule it out, pilot error is not likely. But the above is simply my laymanís opinion based on what Iíve been reading and trying to understand.

Heart attack, at this time, is still a viable 'guess' although it won't explain the high speed the chopper had maintained before it crashed. It was apparently an intense high speed crash with debris scattered up to 500-600 feet apart, and the fuselage, rotor and tail are scattered in hundreds of yards.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2020, 10:44:42 AM by GQBlues »
Quote from: msmob
1. Because of 'man', global warming is causing desert and arid areas to suffer long, dry spell.
2. The 2018 Camp Fire and Woolsey California wildfires are forests burning because of global warming.
3. N95 mask will choke you dead after 30 min. of use.

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Re: Kobe Bryant Fatal Helicopter Crash
« Reply #42 on: January 30, 2020, 10:47:51 AM »
Holy Smoke!

Did you write all of that or are you quoting?   
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Re: Kobe Bryant Fatal Helicopter Crash
« Reply #43 on: January 30, 2020, 10:57:09 AM »
Holy Smoke!

Did you write all of that or are you quoting?

LMAO! I took interest in all this 'spatial disorientation' stuff from watching a whole bunch of videos about it last night. Then started to 'envision' and equate it to what happened. Dunno why it occupied my mind so much.
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1. Because of 'man', global warming is causing desert and arid areas to suffer long, dry spell.
2. The 2018 Camp Fire and Woolsey California wildfires are forests burning because of global warming.
3. N95 mask will choke you dead after 30 min. of use.

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Re: Kobe Bryant Fatal Helicopter Crash
« Reply #44 on: January 30, 2020, 10:57:58 AM »
No black box. No communication before the end. Crash was so bad and on fire, it'll be difficult to discover if there was a mechanical issue or do a proper autopsy on the pilot to see if he died healthy or had a medical issue. I suspect this is going to end up an unsolved mystery.
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Re: Kobe Bryant Fatal Helicopter Crash
« Reply #45 on: January 30, 2020, 02:09:53 PM »
Billy, of course this is all guesses as no official report had surfaced from NTSB. Itís still an active investigation, so Iíll Ďguessí for the sake of dialogue.

You have a point regarding the last audio transmittal prior to the crash. But this is my guessÖ

The chopper departed from SNA (John Wayne - Irvine) at around 9 AM heading to Camarillo (90 miles out). Maybe Cal know the reason why, but I donít understand why the chopperís flight path didnít go over ocean instead of flying through inland (If you look at the map, youíll see what I mean). Itís obviously a much more direct path than the route that was taken. Anyway, with that route, itíll cross 7 airportís flight path - 7!
-Long Beach, Torrance, Hawthorne, LAX, Sta Monica, Burbank and Van Nuys before hitting Camarillo airport. On a Sunday morning at that time, itís peak hours for small private planes, much less commercial. When it arrived around Burbank airport, the traffic was heavy enough that they got held up on a holding pattern for 15 minutes. This, I believe, is when imminent trouble started mounting. Because of the delay, the weather began to get progressively worst. Fog started to hop over the coast to move in valleys and inlands.

Ara had to fly in circle during the holding pattern for at least 15 minutes. Likely a spatial disorientation scenario. Try circling in your car for 15 minutes even in slow speed, your vestibular (roll, pitch, yaw) & proprioceptive (lean , angular, gravitational) senses will start getting affected. Not as much, the visual follows. The auditory not affected (his communication ability was coherent). When Burbank cleared, he was told to navigate along 5 freeway, then left along 118 freeway. This means itíll involve head movements to make sure heís not only following a path on the ground, he would also need to look at his instrument, the sky as he hovers over two airportís flight paths. A lot of head movement. In the video above, it tells you how heavy head movements affects your sense of lean, angulation and gravitational. Itíll start causing illusionary perception. Again, somatogravic disorientation.

The audio exchange went from Burbankís ATC to Van Nuys, then was transferred to SoCal. By the time it was switched to SoCal, the chopper was already in what is termed Ďthe soupí, which apparently is a condition Cal and pilots call ĎIMCí Instrumental Meteorological Conditioní, but by then, Ara was already subjected to enough spatial disorientation triggers, but is also very likely under what pilots refer to as *get-there-litis*. Ara probably still struggled to get his bearings by trying to establish ground reference, despite being in IFR, by trying to look for the 101 freeway below. Which would explain why he started flying low. From Woodland Hills to 1000 Oaks, the 101 freeway is bounded by Sta Monica mountains to the south, and Simi Hills to the north. The relief varies on both sides, with the southside being the worst of the two sides. Along Valley Parkway to Calabasas to the Las Virgenes Road, the mountain side is fairly variable. Some mountainsides are literally against the freeway.

Low flight path, virtually zero visibility, spatial disorientation, and *get-there-litis* likely caused him to accelerate when he thought he was climbing in that heavy fog. He then tried to pull right in the very last second..

Cal, obviously, is much more of an authority in this and he already said that based on Araís experience and qualification, while he will not rule it out, pilot error is not likely. But the above is simply my laymanís opinion based on what Iíve been reading and trying to understand.

Heart attack, at this time, is still a viable 'guess' although it won't explain the high speed the chopper had maintained before it crashed. It was apparently an intense high speed crash with debris scattered up to 500-600 feet apart, and the fuselage, rotor and tail are scattered in hundreds of yards.

GQ, I have to admire your effort to investigate and learn about disorientation in great detail.  You have provided the audience a detailed scientific explanation of the phenomenon.  You seem to have the mindset of an engineer.  :)

With regards to your theory that disorientation of the pilot may have been the root cause of the accident, I agree that it has been the cause of many accidents.  In accepting this theory in this case I would also have to accept.....

1.  The pilot ignored all the IFR training with respect to recovery from disorientation.
2.  The pilot did not use or could not use the autopilot to recover.
3.  The pilot did not benefit from the extensive experience and flight hours in flying helicopters.

While I cannot rule out disorientation as the cause, the pilots training and IFR experience would not suggest this would be at the top of my list for looking for what caused this tragedy.

Clearly, the weather was a likely contribution to the accident including an impediment to reaching the destination in a more direct flight.  I did spend an hour or so researching the weather conditions along the route.  For one thing, I wanted to learn whether the pilot was flying on top of the cloud/fog bank (common) or was scud running below the layer.  Clearly, the flight was conducted below the cloud/fog layer.  Some of the data supporting this conclusion follows:

In Post #5 the opening screen of the video clip shows the current METAR data for Van Nuys (KVNY).  Weather stations reporting into the METAR network provide hourly observations from that site.  Unfortunately, there does not appear to have any weather reporting stations at the destination.  The closest and most relevant weather stations for this flight were Van Nuys (KVNY), Burbank (KBUR), Camarillo (KCMA).  Reviewing the METAR data for these stations for the relevant time period suggests that there was a cloud ceiling (bottom) at:

Burbank (KBUR) at 1753Z (9:53 PST)  2 1/2 Statute Miles Visibility,  Overcast Bottom 1100 Ft (AGL) - 1900 Ft (MSL)

Van Nuys (KVNY) at 1751Z (9:51 PST)  2 1/2 Statute Miles Visibility, Overcast Bottom 1300 Ft (AGL) - 2100 Ft (MSL)

Camarillo (KCMA) at 1755Z ((9:55 PST)  4 Statute Miles Visibility, Overcast Bottom 1700 Ft (AGL) - 1800 Ft (MSL)

Notes:
All cloud ceilings are reported in height above ground level.  Add field elevation to change to Mean Sea Level (MSL)
All altitude references for flight are referenced to MSL and corrected to local barometric pressure.
All 3 METAR reports indicated Haze at the time of observation.

The pilot reported several times that his altitude was around 1400 - 1500 Ft (MSL).  Using the data above, it appears that he was flying around 400 - 500 ft below the cloud layer.

The data suggests that there was a fairly uniform cloud base covering the San Fernando Valley and the pilot should have had no problem flying below it.  Unfortunately there does not appear to be any METAR data near the crash site or the hills/mountains in the vicinity.  This is probably the reason the FAA has requested the public provide photos of the weather/clouds and terrain near the crash site.

GQ asked a question of why the pilot did not fly direct over the ocean to Camarillo.  I don't have an immediate answer to this question but would consider the following:
1.  This is controlled airspace and subject to the rules of that airspace requiring clearances.  There is also a lot of air traffic at LAX for arrivals and departures in this airspace.
2.  I believe that the FAA has specific rules about flying over large water bodies.  There are requirements for approved life preserver equipment for all passengers.  I don't recall the specifics at the moment.
3.  Common Sense - Do you want to be over the ocean if an emergency occurs or would you prefer to fly over land and potentially autorotate to a safe landing.

Will be anxiously awaiting further NTSB investigation results to shed some more light on the cause of the accident.



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Re: Kobe Bryant Fatal Helicopter Crash
« Reply #46 on: January 30, 2020, 02:33:06 PM »
The pilot reported several times that his altitude was around 1400 - 1500 Ft (MSL).  Using the data above, it appears that he was flying around 400 - 500 ft below the cloud layer.


You are correct. Video below shows the chopper was in clear skies in it's holding pattern below the cloud layer. Later  the chopper climbed to 2300 ft though the clouds following recommendations of air traffic control. 12 seconds before the crash, the helicopter went into an extreme dive travelling at 184 mph. Cal, if a helicopter pilot passes out and falls forward onto his control stick, does the helicopter travel forward and into a dive?

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Re: Kobe Bryant Fatal Helicopter Crash
« Reply #47 on: January 30, 2020, 03:00:45 PM »
Billy,

There is no sense in me speculating further on this accident with such limited data.  I have looked at the data that is available and it does not result in forming a conclusion as to the cause of the accident.

I viewed the clip you provided and it, along with your question raised even more questions.  Even if we accept the statements that the pilot pulled up "into the clouds", it raises the fundamental question in my mind.......  An instrument rated pilot would immediately change his spatial reference to his Artificial Horizon and stabilize the aircraft attitude (Roll, Pitch, Yaw).  Also, the new question...........Why did the pilot pitch over into a dive after reaching the higher altitude.  I don't have any answers to these questions.  There are a lot of possibilities.  If this accident was due to pilot error it certainly was a very stupid series of errors in judgment.  His training and experience does not suggest to me that this is the most likely case.
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Re: Kobe Bryant Fatal Helicopter Crash
« Reply #48 on: January 30, 2020, 03:23:08 PM »
GQ, I have to admire your effort to investigate and learn about disorientation in great detail.  You have provided the audience a detailed scientific explanation of the phenomenon.  You seem to have the mindset of an engineer.  :)

With regards to your theory that disorientation of the pilot may have been the root cause of the accident, I agree that it has been the cause of many accidents.  In accepting this theory in this case I would also have to accept.....

1.  The pilot ignored all the IFR training with respect to recovery from disorientation.
2.  The pilot did not use or could not use the autopilot to recover.
3.  The pilot did not benefit from the extensive experience and flight hours in flying helicopters.

While I cannot rule out disorientation as the cause, the pilots training and IFR experience would not suggest this would be at the top of my list for looking for what caused this tragedy.

Clearly, the weather was a likely contribution to the accident including an impediment to reaching the destination in a more direct flight.  I did spend an hour or so researching the weather conditions along the route.  For one thing, I wanted to learn whether the pilot was flying on top of the cloud/fog bank (common) or was scud running below the layer.  Clearly, the flight was conducted below the cloud/fog layer.  Some of the data supporting this conclusion follows:

In Post #5 the opening screen of the video clip shows the current METAR data for Van Nuys (KVNY).  Weather stations reporting into the METAR network provide hourly observations from that site.  Unfortunately, there does not appear to have any weather reporting stations at the destination.  The closest and most relevant weather stations for this flight were Van Nuys (KVNY), Burbank (KBUR), Camarillo (KCMA).  Reviewing the METAR data for these stations for the relevant time period suggests that there was a cloud ceiling (bottom) at:

Burbank (KBUR) at 1753Z (9:53 PST)  2 1/2 Statute Miles Visibility,  Overcast Bottom 1100 Ft (AGL) - 1900 Ft (MSL)

Van Nuys (KVNY) at 1751Z (9:51 PST)  2 1/2 Statute Miles Visibility, Overcast Bottom 1300 Ft (AGL) - 2100 Ft (MSL)

Camarillo (KCMA) at 1755Z ((9:55 PST)  4 Statute Miles Visibility, Overcast Bottom 1700 Ft (AGL) - 1800 Ft (MSL)
1

Notes:
All cloud ceilings are reported in height above ground level.  Add field elevation to change to Mean Sea Level (MSL)
All altitude references for flight are referenced to MSL and corrected to local barometric pressure.
All 3 METAR reports indicated Haze at the time of observation.

The pilot reported several times that his altitude was around 1400 - 1500 Ft (MSL).  Using the data above, it appears that he was flying around 400 - 500 ft below the cloud layer.

The data suggests that there was a fairly uniform cloud base covering the San Fernando Valley and the pilot should have had no problem flying below it.  Unfortunately there does not appear to be any METAR data near the crash site or the hills/mountains in the vicinity.  This is probably the reason the FAA has requested the public provide photos of the weather/clouds and terrain near the crash site.

GQ asked a question of why the pilot did not fly direct over the ocean to Camarillo.  I don't have an immediate answer to this question but would consider the following:
1.  This is controlled airspace and subject to the rules of that airspace requiring clearances.  There is also a lot of air traffic at LAX for arrivals and departures in this airspace.
2.  I believe that the FAA has specific rules about flying over large water bodies.  There are requirements for approved life preserver equipment for all passengers.  I don't recall the specifics at the moment.
3.  Common Sense - Do you want to be over the ocean if an emergency occurs or would you prefer to fly over land and potentially autorotate to a safe landing.
2

Will be anxiously awaiting further NTSB investigation results to shed some more light on the cause of the accident.

Thanks Cal.

1- Those were every interesting information that I may need to go back to see if it'll have any logical application to reinforce my theory. The video below happened to a Canadian pilot and it exemplified this instance as the subject pilot was flying through an IMC. In the video, the ATC was supposedly telling him 'visibility' distance information in an area he was flying through. I forgot the term used but the pilot actually flying in the zone disagree with the report. He said the reported visibility distance is wrong. It was actually a lot less and getting worst (skip directly to the 7:45 min mark). He then validated this by giving supporting data. I just have a nasty suspicion the visibility Ara had when he entered the soup was far worst than what was reported.


Could it be the towers were all using the same information for lack of a better more updated information? The fog, for all intent and purposes, is not static. It was moving from coastal to inland and getting thicker. I say this only because the NTSD folks are asking for public videos in the crash area (not in Burbank) as though implying the 2.5 mile visibility may not be admissible/reliable (?).

2. Those are very good response. Makes sense. Outside of those small planes pulling commercial banners during the summer, and even an occasional police chopper hovering quickly over the beaches...I don't remember ever seeing any other aircraft or chopper flying along the coastlines from OC to Malibu.

Now, I know it does no good to speculate. This, for whatever reason, just piqued my interest. I didn't realize there's a whole other interesting 'world' (the world of flight challenges) that is this interesting. Likely a world I will never experience as I developed a pretty good case of acrophobia.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2020, 03:31:30 PM by GQBlues »
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Re: Kobe Bryant Fatal Helicopter Crash
« Reply #49 on: January 30, 2020, 04:56:15 PM »
GQ,

Funny you referenced this video.  I had watched it last night while researching weather for the fatal flight.  The video does depict what can happen to VFR pilots.  I should point out that even private pilots get training in IFR conditions.  It is so that a VFR pilot can recover from inadvertently flying into IMC (IFR) weather conditions.

Yes, it is common for PIREPS (Pilot Reports) to contradict what ATC reports for weather forecasts and conditions. ATC and the aviation community can only report and advise on the data that is reported to them.  The weather bureau and METAR observations are the source of most data.  ATC cannot know what conditions exist beyond what is measurable by ground stations and pilot observations.

Case in point.........  Part of my research last night, I wanted to determine what the "tops" of the marine layer (cloud layer) was and further was curious why the pilot did not choose to fly "VFR on top" (above the cloud layer). This is very common and have done it many, many times.  Getting to your destination above a cloud layer in sunny clear air and then descending through a 'hole' or making an IFR approach through the cloud layer is a very common flight scenario.

I was unable to find any meteorological data or reports that indicated what the 'tops' were.  In most cases of marine layer clouds/fog, they are fairly thin.  Perhaps 500 - 1000 ft thick.  Flying out of Santa Maria for over 25 years, we experienced fog down to ground level and still made IFR departures and arrivals. It was routine.  The tops of the fog/clouds were typically 300 - 800 Ft AGL.  The METAR data for the Kobe flight indicates  only one layer of clouds. I suspect it was not over 500 - 1000 feet thick.

This brings into question as to why the pilot did not file for an IFR clearance to get from below the clouds, through the clouds, to VFR conditions 'on top'.  This is a good question.  Assuming that the aircraft avionics and autopilot were in flight worthy condition, it would have been a piece of cake (assuming the pilot was comfortable with his skills).

There are a couple considerations to look at.

1.  According to the METAR data Camarillo also had an overcast layer and the pilot would have to make an IFR approach through the clouds to land.   This of course is more time and trouble with getting clearances, etc.

2.  There is another consideration to look at.  Human Factors!  As if helicopter flight is not scary enough for some passengers, the thought of flying with zero visibility and no outside references is unsettling as a minimum.  During commercial flights, I have been amused by observing passengers response when the aircraft enters clouds on either departure or arrival.  They clearly tense up and sometimes even grip the armrest.  I suspect that the pilot may have not wanted to expose the passengers to this environment.  Needless to say, this could have been a fatal decision.

Back to work for now....have to pay the mortgage.   :)
Doug (Calmissile)

 

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