Pilot in Kobe Bryant crash may have thought he was going up but was barreling down, NTSB says

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The report said he may have “misperceived” the pitch of the aircraft

FILE – In this Jan. 27, 2020, file photo, provided by the National Transportation Safety Board, NTSB investigators Adam Huray, right, and Carol Hogan examine wreckage as part of the NTSB’s investigation of a helicopter crash near Calabasas, Calif. Federal investigators said Wednesday, June 17, 2020, that 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. (James Anderson/National Transportation Safety Board via AP, File)

LOS ANGELES (AP) – 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 was actually 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.

The report said he may have “misperceived” the pitch of the aircraft, which can happen when a pilot becomes disoriented in low visibility. Experts have said the path of the flight indicated he was disoriented.

The 1,700 pages of the report do not offer a conclusion of what caused the crash but compile factual reports. A final report on the cause is due later.

Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and six of their friends were killed, along with the pilot.

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