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*It may be too soon to call, but from what we can surmise, at this juncture, we’re talking pilot error as being a prime, if not the key factor, in the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash.

We say that because the pilot of the helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant, his daughter and 6 other passengers got in big trouble with fog which was heavy Sunday morning. Seemingly, they were aborting the trip and were returning home. They barely clearing one mountain range, but never slowed down … this according to the flight tracker and several experienced helicopter pilots in the L.A. area.

As we reported, the pilot had to circle near the Downtown L.A. area — near the L.A. Zoo — for 15 minutes because of bad weather ahead. As we reported … the LAPD had grounded its helicopter fleet because of fog at around the same time Kobe’s helicopter took off.

The pilot was following a visual flight plan and was cleared by the tower to proceed north, toward Thousand Oaks where Kobe was taking his daughter for a basketball game. When he got to the Calabasas area, the fog became blinding.

As we reported, the pilot was way too low — at 1,250 feet. The pilots we spoke with say it’s clear based on the abrupt change on the flight tracker … the pilot panicked and quickly ascended to 2,000 feet. We’re told he cleared a mountain range by 100 feet, and the pilots we spoke with say he was so low he almost certainly saw the tops of the mountain.

According to other pilots that TMZ spoke with (all of whom have extensive experience), based on the flight tracker and the accident scene, they believe the pilot felt he had cleared all of the mountains and was proceeding to head back when he hit another mountain. It’s presumed the pilot did not know there were mountains ahead because he actually descended from 2,000 feet to 1,700 feet … presumably to go under the fog.

Dang. as we get more details, the story gets even sadder. 🙁

The Reporter Newspaper
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