Entertainment And News

Everything You Wanted To Know About Ara Zobayan, The Pilot In The Deadly Kobe Bryant Helicopter Crash

Photo: Getty Images
Who Is Ara Zobayan? Everything You Wanted To Know About The Kobe Bryant Helicopter Crash Pilot

He was known as someone who was "the sweetest guy" by his family and friends. Yet, now, unfortunately, he will forever be known as the pilot in the tragic helicopter crash that claimed nine lives, including basketball great Kobe Bryant.

So, who is Ara Zobayan, the pilot in the ill-fated Kobe Bryant helicopter crash?

Much ado has been made about the helicopter crash that killed the NBA great and eight others — including Zobayan himself. But while the official cause of the crash is still under investigation, what is known thanks to the recently released flight tracker is that fog and bad weather played a role in the crash.

The tracker reveals that the helicopter flew over the Glendale area for about 15 minutes, in a series of circles, hoping that the impending fog would clear. Just 15 minutes after the helicopter departed from the Glendale area, it crashed into a wooded area just outside of Calabasas, CA. 

RELATED: Orange Coast College Coach John Altobelli, Wife Keri, Daughter Alyssa, Amongst Victims Of The Kobe Bryant Helicopter Crash​

Let's look at what we know about the pilot behind the crash. 

1. Who is Ara Zobayan, the Kobe Brown helicopter crash pilot? 

Very little information is known or has been revealed about him. However, according to Christina Pascucci, a reporter for KTLA and a pilot herself, Zobayan was not only an experienced pilot, but was considered a respected instructor on helicopter flying.

He was also "instrument-rated," which meant that he was certified to fly in treacherous flying conditions — such as the dense fog that was present on the morning of January 26, 2020. 

2. He tried to communicate a distress signal to the control tower before he crashed. 

The transcript from the fateful flight was just released, and it shows that Zobayan was desperate to communicate a distress signal to the control tower at the Burbank Airport before he ultimately crashed into the woods just outside of Calabasas, CA.

The heartbreaking transcript reveals that Zobayan tried to navigate into safer flying conditions on the directive of the control tower but that he ultimately flew too low to be seen on their radars and him communicating his distress location was the last transmission received before the crash. 

3. Currently, more than 20 members of the NTSB are investigating the cause of the crash. 

The NTSB has dispatched more than 20 members of its Federal agency to investigate the cause of the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash. Amongst the things they will be investigating: any equipment failure, any pilot error on Zobayan's part, and any weather conditions that could have contributed to the fatal crash that left no survivors. 

RELATED: What Caused Kobe Bryant's Helicopter Crash That Killed Nine People?​

4. Kobe Bryant trusted Zobayan above every other pilot. 

According to Zobayan's friend, Darren Kemp, who was also one of his flight students, Zobayan was Bryant's most trusted pilot. Kemp said that Bryant refused to fly with any other pilot but Zobayan, who would also often encourage Kemp to keep pursuing his dreams of being a pilot. 

5. Zobayan was given clearance to fly in less-than-perfect conditions. 

Despite the treacherous conditions that the crew faced on January 26, 2020, Zobayan was given clearance to fly. That's because the control tower was aware of his skill in flying, in addition to his "instrument-rated" status. However, he seemed to have flown too low for the control tower at Burbank Airport to track him, and that's when they lost him.

6. The helicopter manufacturer tweeted their condolences. 

Sikorsky, a company which is owned by Lockheed Martin, tweeted their condolences to Zobayan and the Bryant family in the wake of the crash.

"We extend our sincerest condolences to all those affected by today's Sikorsky S-76B accident in Calabasas, California. We have been in contact with the NTSB and stand ready to provide assistance and support to the investigative authorities. Safety is our top priority; if there are any actionable findings from the investigation, we will inform our S-76 customers," they said.

Our thoughts are with Ara Zobayan and his family during this difficult time. 

RELATED: Everything You Wanted To Know About Gianna Bryant, 13, Who Was Confirmed Dead Alongside Dad In Horrific Helicopter Crash​

Bernadette Giacomazzo is an editor, writer, publicist, and photographer whose work has appeared in Teen Vogue, People, Us Weekly, The Source, XXL, HipHopDX, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, BET.com, and more.