Federal investigators say the pilot of the helicopter that crashed in thick fog, killing Kobe Bryant and seven other passengers, reported he was climbing when he actually was descending.
The National Transportation Safety Board said Wednesday that Ara Zobayan’s last transmission said he was climbing to 4,000 feet to get above clouds. But he actually was in a rapid descent into a hillside northwest of Los Angeles.
The report confirms initial findings that the helicopter was functioning and does not offer a conclusion of what caused the Jan. 26 crash that killed all nine aboard.
Video and photos from the crash site indicated that heavy fog was in the area at the time the helicopter crashed.
The pilot of the helicopter, who was among the nine killed, has lengthy experience in the air. He had 8,200 hours of total flight time and 1,250 hours with the type of helicopter flown. He had completed the same route the day before, albeit in clear conditions.