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Flight logs show Kobe Bryant's helicopter veered into Calabasas mountains at high rate of speed

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Posted at 4:02 PM, Jan 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-27 19:21:56-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Details have emerged on the helicopter that crashed in Los Angeles County Sunday, killing former NBA star, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others.

Bryant's helicopter took off from John Wayne Airport in Orange County at 9:06 a.m. Sunday, records show. Bryant's aircraft maintained a steady rate of climb after departing John Wayne Airport until about 38 minutes into the flight.

Data from FlightRadar24 shows the helicopter circling in a holding pattern above Glendale before veering west toward the Santa Monica Mountains over the 101 Ventura Freeway.

The helicopter then slowed its speed to about 127 mph and climbed 900 feet in about 24-seconds.

A moment later, it accelerated to 176 mph and descended 400-feet -- twice the height of the Coronado Bridge -- from 2,150 to 1,700 feet in about 14-seconds. That would be the last data entry in the FlightRadar logs.

Bryant's helicopter was on its way to Thousand Oaks when it went down in mountainous terrain, less than 25 miles away from its destination.

The logs say the helicopter fell at a rate of 4,200 feet per minute. Images from the scene show debris strewn across a hillside marked with hiking trails, just east of the Malibu Creek neighborhood.

Details on what may have led to the crash have not been determined, as the National Transportation Safety Board launched its investigation Monday.

The crash occurred in foggy conditions, which prompted the Los Angeles Police Department to ground its helicopter fleet, the nation's largest such fleet.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva also said his agency had no helicopters in the air at the time due to the conditions.

According to a New York Times report, the helicopter received special approval to fly around Burbank despite the fog. The pilot was reportedly qualified to fly under foggy and cloudy conditions.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records obtained by 10News show the aircraft flown by a single pilot that was carrying Bryant and seven other passengers was a Sikorsky S-76B twin-engine helicopter.

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Sikorsky is a subsidiary of defense company Lockheed Martin.

Following confirmed reports of the crash, Sikorsky tweeted: "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 and our customer."

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 and our customer.— Sikorsky (@Sikorsky) January 26, 2020

SAN DIEGO STOPS

Flight logs show Bryant’s helicopter made several stops at El Cajon’s Gillespie Field and San Diego’s McClellan-Palomar Airport over the last few months. Its last visit was January 7.

On New Year’s Eve, the N72EK arrived in San Diego from Los Angeles at around 7:44 p.m. before departing back to John Wayne Airport at around 8:30 p.m., according to logs.

It’s unknown if Bryant, who flew by helicopter and had it painted with his Mamba brand logo, was a passenger on any of the trips to San Diego.

According to Business Insider, the helicopter that crashed Sunday was built in 1991 and owned by Van Nuys-based Island Express Holding Corp. and either chartered or leased by Bryant. The helicopter was registered to Island Express Holding Corp. in Sept. 2015, according to FAA records.

The S-76 was designed for corporate transportation, especially within the oil industry, where executives were traveling between land and off-shore drilling platforms and was inspired by the UH-60 Black Hawk military helicopter, according to the publication.

Business Insider reports that the helicopter's good safety record "has been largely attributed to its twin-turbine design, along with more rigorous training standards than some other civilian models, and the fact that it's frequently flown by two pilots, unlike most light helicopters."

Information from the City News Service was used in this report