ABC11 pilot reflects on time as LA chopper pilot in assessing Kobe Bryant crash

Chopper11HD pilot Rob Marshall assessed the flight path of the helicopter that crashed in Los Angeles killing Kobe Bryant and eight others and looked for anomalies.

Marshall was a longtime TV news helicopter pilot in Los Angeles and is very familiar with the terrain and the role weather conditions play in Southern California.

"I have a feeling that it will not be a mechanical failure, I just don't think that's the issue," said Marshall. "I think really what the main issue was weather."

Some experts suggested that the pilot might have gotten disoriented because of fog but Jennifer Homendy of the National Transportation Safety Board said during a news conference Monday afternoon that investigating teams would look at everything from the pilot's history to the engines.

"We look at man, machine and the environment," she said. "And weather is just a small portion of that."

The pilot had asked for and received special clearance to fly in heavy fog just minutes before the crash and was flying at 1,400 feet when he went south and then west, Homendy said.

Some experts raised questions of whether the helicopter should have even been flying. The weather was so foggy that the Los Angeles Police Department and the county sheriff's department had grounded their own choppers.

The pilot was identified as Ara Zobayan.

Homendy said the pilot had reported 8,200 hours of flight time by July 2019. He was commercially certified as a pilot and certified as a flight instructor, she said.

The Sikorsky S-76 has an excellent safety record, according to Marshall.

"It's a great helicopter. It is the quintessential corporate aircraft," said Marshall. "The safety record is phenomenal."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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