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KobeandGianna.jpg

13-year-old Gianna (“Gigi”) Bryant (2006-2020), with her father,

 41-year-old Kobe “Bean” Bryant (1978-2020)

The Kobe Conspiracy

 

Was the Mamba murdered? 

 The Firpo Files Digital Newsmagazine

 

by Firpo Carr, PhD

Member: American Psychological Association (APA)

Division 36: Society for the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality

Division 38: Society for Health Psychology

Division 40: Society for Clinical Neuropsychology

Division 48: Society for the Study of Peace, Conflict and

Violence: Peace Psychology Division

Division 52: International Psychology

Religious Scholar, Seminary Graduate:

Master of Arts in Urban Ministry 

02.02.2020

 

[NOTE: Please see follow-up article "The Kobe Cover-Up Continues" (http://firpocarr.com/firpofiles02102020.html)]  

 

"I saw something else under the sun. The race isn't won by fast runners, or the battle by heroes. Wise people don't necessarily have food. Intelligent people don't necessarily have riches, and skilled people don't necessarily receive special treatment. But time and unpredictable events overtake all of them" (Ecclesiastes 9:11 [God's Word Translation])."

An unpredictable event occurred a week ago, on Sunday, January 26, 2020. The unforeseen time was 9:45 am. What happened? Former Los Angeles Lakers basketball superstar and Academy Award winner Kobe Bryant was tragically killed in what authorities are calling a helicopter crash, the impact of which was felt around the world. It shook California like no earthquake ever has, the reverberations of which are still being felt.

But why did Kobe have to die?

Does a People magazine interview suggest a cover-up?

And what say the conspiracy theorists?

Relatedly, on February 1, 2020, the Los Angeles Times carried an article with a title that some might see as being cryptically ominous, “Lakers Still Trying to Make Sense of Kobe’s Death.”[1]

We’re all still trying to make sense of it.

Something isn’t right.

Chick Hearn would be devastated.

Everyone is affected.

A Los Angeles Rams’ football fan mourned, “I didn’t know I loved him, and I didn’t even know him.”

“My heart won’t stop hurting,” lamented a Los Angeles Dodgers baseball fan, “and I never met the Mamba.”

Some are in such shock and denial that they think if you remove all the headlines and don’t talk about it, then it won’t be true; he and his beautiful, animated daughter Gigi would still be alive along with the other seven precious souls that lost their lives in what several witnesses are calling an explosion that inevitably led to a crash.

The incomprehensible event happened in the city of Calabasas, California, which is about a 30-minute drive from downtown Los Angeles (29.7 miles/47.8 kilometers).

Nestled among beautiful rolling hills, Calabasas is an unincorporated section of Los Angeles County that shares a common border with Woodland Hills (which is Los Angeles proper), where I once lived on hillside property in a tri-level home overlooking a sprawling golf course with the city as its backdrop.

Woodland Hills is the community that marks the end of the City of Los Angeles’ northwest city limit as it abuts Calabasas.[2] 

The haunting audio exchange between expert helicopter pilot Ara Zobayan (the chief pilot of Island Express Helicopters, a commercially certified pilot, licensed, and certified flight instructor known for his meticulous attention to detail when it comes to flight safety) and air traffic controllers is disturbing as it progresses to the deafening dead silence that echoed in the hills of Calabasas. (More on Zobayan and the reproduced transcript below.)

One eyewitness said he heard a “slow hover” through the dense fog before seeing the helicopter plunge to the ground, after which he called 911. According to the media, police phone records indicate he was the first to do so. However, as will be discussed shortly, other eyewitness accounts add to this resident’s troubling story.

My Memories of a Mamba Moment: I was born in a house on 37th Street near downtown Los Angeles, not too far from Staples Center, the home of the Lakers. Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain were our heroes. Then came Magic and Kareem. After that, Kobe and Shaq. And now, LeBron and Anthony Davis. Of these, I think Magic and Kobe (in that order) are the most colorful. But this is the Mamba’s moment.  

A Mamba Moment: After coming from hosting a news conference as the spokesman for Michael Jackson’s family during his ill-conceived trial in 2004, I had a late dinner at Houston’s restaurant in Manhattan Beach, California. And who did I see sitting in one of the end booths with his back toward Manhattan Beach Boulevard?

Kobe Bryant.[3]  

He was feeding his baby girl Natalia,[4] his one and only child at the time, as she sat on his left knee. He used his right hand to feed them both.[5]

It’s all very surreal now.   

In a relaxed atmosphere, the soft ambiance of the mild evening was magically captured indoors. The place was nearly empty, given that it was rather late.

I elected not to interrupt the Mamba’s meal as he joked with two bodyguards. It was evident he was a loving, caring father with or without the presence of the media’s probing cameras.

Seeing him and Gianna in the photo above reminds me of being a single father when I was about his age, raising a daughter around Gianna’s age. My heart goes out to his father, Joe “Jellybean” Bryant,[6] as two slots in the next two generations have been catastrophically removed from his lineage, at least for now (more later).

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KobeandCompanyNineSquares.jpg
 

 

 

Kobe Cared: The Mamba regularly utilized a leased helicopter as he knew it was the safest and most convenient way to transport his friends to Gigi’s basketball games.

This alone is an obvious indication that he genuinely cared for them.

Both John Altobelli and his daughter Alyssa, Gigi’s teammate, were frequent passengers and always enjoyed the experience.[7]

When old enough, Gigi wanted to play on the powerhouse women’s basketball team at the University of Connecticut. Knowing this, the classy school recently paid tribute to her by placing her numbered jersey and flowers on one of the team chairs.[8]

Kobe knew that when it came to traveling as much as he did with Gigi, taking a car would have been potentially much more dangerous. And he would have sacrificed convenience had he taken a small plane, which has a relatively good safety record.[9]

Here’s why:

Airplane Deaths: According to Forbes, only 561 people died worldwide in airplane crashes in 2018.[10] (Yes, one death is one too many, but this is an incredibly low number.) That’s about one death for every three million flights, which makes the chance of dying in an airplane crash 1 in 5 million. A measure of this record of safety could well translate over to another type of aircraft, the helicopter.

Helicopter Deaths: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reports that “the overall accident rate [since 2013] fell to 3.19 accidents per 100,000 flight hours in 2016.”[11]

Translation?

One hundred thousand hours is over 11 years. That means there are, on average, about three helicopter accidents every 11 years. Hypothetically, if we cluster these three accidents in one year starting with this year, the last three-year cluster of helicopter accidents would have happened in 2009, and the next three-year group wouldn’t occur until 2031.  

Auto Deaths: Regularly taking a car, van, or bus to Gigi’s games would have been more dangerous. “Nearly 1.25 million people die in road crashes each year, on average 3,287 deaths a day [my emphasis].”[12]

Whatever the numbers, Kobe took great care to keep his friends safe. As a leader and confidence builder, it would be difficult to imagine him not trying to reassure Gigi and the other passengers that everything was going to be alright before the explosion and subsequent crash.

But why did the loving God that Kobe embraced allow this soul-shattering tragedy that rocks us to the core happen in the first place?

How do we make sense of all of it?

God’s Grace: On the Sunday morning before his untimely passing, Kobe Bryant, a Catholic, attended Mass at Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church in his hometown of Newport Beach, California.[13] The Catholic Bible says that our first parents, Adam and Eve, sinned in the Garden of Eden.

This is relevant because therein lies the problem.

Adam and Eve, influenced by the Devil, introduced death into the human family as they flagrantly misused their God-given free will, and we’re all suffering for it (Genesis 3:1-24; Romans 3:23; 5:12). This death is accomplished in a plethora of ways, including helicopter crashes, and no amount of governmental regulations--though needed and relatively helpful--can prevent death.

Allowing them to utilize every fiber of their free will, God has given humans thousands of years to conjure up and exercise every conceivable form of government, given that the parents of the human family felt they could do just fine sans the rule of their loving Creator.

While some rulers do a better job than others,[14] humans have tragically demonstrated their inability to govern themselves, especially in a world controlled by Satan (Matthew 4:8-9; Luke 4:6-7; John 12:31; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Revelation 12:9).

 We humans have experienced and continue to suffer the devastating consequences of our efforts to exist without God in our lives (Ecclesiastes 8:9; Jeremiah 10:23), resulting in the unforgiving range of death from terminal disease to murder.

Encouragingly, Kobe’s loving God Yahweh will resurrect billions of people (including those who have perished in helicopter crashes) to a earth restored to paradise (Job 14:11-14; Psalm 37:10-11, 29; Matthew 5:5; John 5:28-29; Acts 24:15), where sickness, death, and sad tears will no longer exist (Isaiah 25:8; Revelation 21:1-5).

God’s grace.

But, in the meantime, what really happened to Kobe?

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KobeJordanLaBron.jpg

Smoking Out the Truth?: Frankly, many people believe that Kobe’s untimely death was no accident. In hushed tones, they say he was murdered. Here are four points they make and the questions they ask:

(A) The Impeccable Pilot and People Magazine

Character Witness #1: Adam Alexander told People magazine that Kobe’s pilot Ara Zobayan was his flight instructor at one time, and that “he was as skilled and as talented as a pilot as you could ever get. With him, it was always safety first and above and beyond that, he was doing what he loved.”[15]

Conclusion: It is improbable, then that there was a pilot error. Zobayan was the most skilled and talented pilot in the skies. He was a fanatic when it came to safety.

Character Witness #2: Another source told People that Zobayan was “extremely experienced” as a pilot and that as a pilot, “he had a lot of respect for flying and would never take risks. He knew the valley very well. The area where they crashed was not a new area for him. He was very familiar with that area.”[16]

Conclusion: If Zobayan was as good as people who knew and worked with him say, the fog didn’t surprise him at all. In fact, he expected it and could always see the ground as per two different airport towers all along his flight path who directed him, as will be discussed in more detail below.

Character Witness #3: To top things off, Los Angeles Clippers superstar and greater L.A. area native Kawhi Leonard said of Zobayan, “that’s the guy you would ask for to fly you from city to city.”[17]

Conclusion: Famous people across the board requested Zobayan because he was the best.

Question(s) public is asking: Given the pilot’s remarkable flight record, why has the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) attempted to discredit him? Why would a pilot with impeccable credentials and a sterling record, and who had acute awareness and knew the terrain exceptionally well with or without fog allegedly crash into the side of a familiar hill?

(B) Eyewitnesses of the Crash: These are revealing observations by persons who were earwitnesses to the sound of the helicopter before the crash, and eyewitnesses in the seconds before and after the crash:

 Witness #1 (mentioned earlier): A Calabasas resident, an older White man who looked to be in his late 70s, related during an interview conducted right after the crash that he heard the “slow hover” of the helicopter just above him in the fog and could sense that the pilot was searching for a place to land. That’s when the resident suddenly heard an explosion (not a crash) and then saw the resulting debris. 

Witness #2: Another resident of Calabasas, a White woman who appeared to be in her late 30s, and who saw and heard the helicopter just before it crashed said in a televised interview that the blades rotated slower than usual and had a “swishing sound.” She indicated she was used to hearing the media traffic helicopters in the area and was pretty much familiar with their sound. She also explained that in its emergency descent, the pilot tried to avoid the houses below. Then, the helicopter suddenly exploded in mid-air, after which it plunged to the ground.  

 Witness #3a [Jerry Kockarian, Extra interview]: During this telling interview, this earwitness and eyewitness, who lives in the area near the Lost Hills Sherriff’s Station, not far from the crash site, said in broken but understandable English:

“This helicopter is not supposed to be around like that…It was struggling look like to me, the engine-wise … [Reporter: “What did the helicopter sound like to you?”] it sound the same but was very slow….sound was a helicopter sound, but engine-wise was slow … [Reporter: “So the helicopter was flying too low, it was very slow…”] [Kockarian interrupted and said]: maximum 400 feet, 300 to 400 feet above, and I see it.  …[Reporter: “But you couldn’t see?”] Nobody can see helicopter in that time and then I see it. I’m the closest guy I believe so…Only I see some like, dark, something moving, object moving, but, but heard of the helicopter, obviously you can say it was a helicopter but it’s not like red, white, blue. You can’t tell because it’s foggy…I heard, and I see it.

{Reporter: “So, so you saw, you saw the helicopter flying too low, flying too slowly, and then what happened…?”]

 “I heard some noise [gesturing twice by quickly spreading his arms in addition to mimicking two explosive sounds with his mouth] like that. First, I thought somebody shot something … I didn’t realize it was the helicopter. But then I walked toward that sign, I see some fire on there, and really short smoke I see. And I realized, okay, it’s fire. I thought, this month of the year, winter, fire, impossible. And like ten seconds later I realized that’s the helicopter … The flame was white, obviously.[18] The time I see it it was white. It still is white. I don’t see any black.”[19]

Witness #3b [Jerry Kockarian, StarTV interview]: “I was drinking coffee in church parking lot. I heard some noise, I mean, actually, a helicopter noise. It was very low flying. It was a foggy day. … The tail was not really turning right, you know what I mean. Like take 20 seconds, I heard some explosion. … I see some smoke start coming up.”[20]

Question(s) public is asking: Since all three earwitnesses and eyewitnesses say they heard a mid-air explosion, the obvious question many are asking is, “Was there evidence of a bomb onboard?” or, “Was there a remotely controlled explosive device onboard?” Since eyewitnesses say there was no fog closer to the ground where the pilot was trying to land, why is the NTSB insistent on trying to blame pilot incompetence or a “missing” Terrain Awareness and Warning System (TAWS) on the crash?

[NOTE: For the record, there have been multiple media reports blaming what authorities describe as a crash that could have been prevented if the required (by implication) TAWS had been aboard. First off, the “required” TAWS equipment is not “required.” As one media outlet accurately reported: “The helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant didn’t have a recommended [my emphasis] warning system [TAWS] to alert the pilot he was too close to land but it’s not clear it would have averted the crash.”[21] In fact, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the warning system in question, TAWS, could actually be dangerous, which is why it’s not required. The same media outlet says: “FAA officials had questioned whether the [warning] technology would work on helicopters, which fly lower and could trigger too many false alarms that might detract from safety.”[22] Based on the FAA’s analysis, it was a good thing that this TAWS technology was not installed in the helicopter that expert pilot Zobayan was flying.]

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KobeandShaq.jpg 

These three eyewitness accounts are at variance with the NTSB’s version of matters, which states that “the crash created a crater at 1085 feet above sea level.”[23] This begs the question: Why are NTSB representatives, who were on the east coast at the time of the crash, contradicting the three witnesses who saw and heard exactly what happened just before and after the explosion?

(C) Detectives: During my 10-year stint with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) as a civilian employee, I was promoted to Assistant-Officer-in-Charge (AOIC) and attended detective school as a police supervisor. Strong, enduring friendships were established there, where I learned the musings of detective investigators.

Here’s an idea of how they would conduct this investigation:

The investigators would theorize that the first explosion was a bomb, and the second was the fuel tank exploding.

Kockarian stated something fundamental when he said that “some fire on there, and really short smoke I see.…The flame was white, obviously. The time I see it…it was white. It still is white. I don’t see any black.”

This is significant because when a helicopter crashes, a plume of thick black smoke--definitely not white smoke--immediately billows from the site, as can be seen in another very tragic helicopter crash caught on a video cell phone.[24] No black smoke ever rose from the site where the debris landed.

What about motive?: According to Forbes, Kobe’s personal net worth is $600 million,[25] and his investment firm reportedly has over $2 billion in assets.[26] The detective investigators would look at who stands to gain the most from Kobe’s death. In other words, they would follow the money.   

Question(s) public is asking: Why are the media and the NTSB not considering the possibility that Kobe was the victim of foul play?

(D) Conspiracy Theorists: I’ve been around my share of conspiracy theorists over the decades (including my old friend, the late Dick Gregory) and have a reasonably good idea of how they think. 

They may entertain the almost inconceivable thought that Kobe’s death in a helicopter crash was no accident, and believe that unseen sinister forces have conspired to dull the brilliant legacy of African Americans like Kobe’s fellow Laker great Magic Johnson (HIV); Kobe’s idol, Michael Jordan (gambling, untimely death of his father); a man who Kobe identified as one of his mentors, Michael Jackson (death by accidental overdose); Prince (death by unintentional overdose); legendary comedian Bill Cosby (prison); and my fellow Los Angeles native from the next generation, posthumous Grammy Award winner Nipsey Hussle (murdered), to name a few.

The allegations that conspiracy theorists allege are especially poignant given that we just embarked on Black History Month.

In all these cases, these same conspiracy theorists charge that misinformation is quickly disseminated.

For example, in his response to Witness #3’s (Alex Kockarian) interview on YouTube, Brett Townsend remarked (edited): “Strange how the officials said it went into a dive at 184 mph, descending 2,000 feet a minute, and this witness and another said it was traveling at a slow rate and crashed.”[27]

And Tsalta Baptiste commented similarly on the same interview (edited): “Two things scream at me in this video, the first is the fog didn’t look bad enough to crash in.[28] I mean, there were other helicopters immediately reporting to the crash site.  Second, why did the tail start malfunctioning?”[29]

Question(s) public is asking: Why doesn’t the public, government, or even responsible media organizations hold reckless media outlets accountable when disinformation or misleading information is presented as fact while ignoring eyewitness evidence?

For example, Dave Philipps and Sarah Mervosh of the New York Times reported that “the helicopter carrying the basketball legend Kobe Bryant crashed into a fogbound mountainside,”[30] and Jennifer Homendy of the NTSB says the helicopter was in “one piece”[31] upon impact into a hillside, directly contradicting eyewitnesses who said the aircraft was slowly hovering before it exploded and fell to the ground.

Pilot Cleared by Two Towers: Kobe’s pilot was cleared by two different towers to fly in the fog, and for good reason.

But before considering more details, a definition of terms would be helpful:

What is VFR?: VFR stands for Visual Flight Rules and ‘requires a ceiling greater than 3,000 feet above ground level and visibility that’s greater than five miles.’[32]

What is IFR?: IFR means Instrument Flight Rules and ‘requires a ceiling less than 1,000 feet above ground level and/or visibility of fewer than three miles.’[33]

What does ATC Stand For: Air Traffic Control (ATC) are airport towers that direct pilots on the ground and through controlled airspace.

Now, with these definitions in mind, let’s consider what an authoritative online aviation magazine has to say about VFR and IFR in connection with an ATC.

“In some ways, VFR-only pilots can be safer when flying VFR than pilots who hold instrument ratings and sometimes fly VFR, sometimes IFR. VFR pilots often are more self-reliant, while IFR pilots get used to the services provided by the system and miss important factors without the ATC input.”[34]

Kobe’s pilot, Ara Zobayan, was a certified VFR pilot (among other numerous qualifications), hence, was “more self-reliant,” and as such, “safer when flying VFR.” Yet, he went the extra mile and still stayed in constant contact with the ATC.

Significantly, two different air traffic control towers (Burbank and Van Nuys) cleared Kobe’s pilot to continue flying under weather conditions at the time, including the fog, again, for good reason.  

Burbank ATC initially cleared Zobayan under Special VFR (SVFR) conditions.

“An SVFR flight is a VFR flight that’s cleared by air traffic control to operate within a control zone that’s normally below visual meteorological conditions. In the daytime, you must have at least one mile of flight visibility and clear of clouds.”[35]

This clearly means that both Zobayan and the Burbank ATC knew that all was well with the control zone even with meteorological conditions below normal. Burbank ATC handed him off to Van Nuys ATC.

Van Nuys ATC informed him that he had been switched from SVFR to VFR,

Because both the Van Nuys ATC and Zobayan, who as an expert had a VFR pilot rating (as mentioned), knew he could not “fly through heavy clouds,” and of equal importance, had “to be able to see the ground.”

Moreover, the pilot was also responsible for “avoiding collisions and maintaining minimum horizontal visibility of three to five miles.”

All these conditions were met before the explosion. Also, it’s consistent with two of the eyewitnesses said when they explained that he was looking for a safe place to land since he could see the ground.

Something went awry once Van Nuys ATC transitioned him over to So Cal ATC. What that probably was will be explained after the translation of the audio transcript.

Accurate Audio Translation: Several media sites have presented their inaccurate interpretation of the audio transmission of Kobe’s helicopter flight path as fact. Submitted herewith is the exact audio transmission which, in sum, strongly suggests that expert pilot Zobayan was attempting to communicate with So Cal ATC, the last of three air traffic control towers, before the explosion(s) and subsequent crash.

 

The Transcript[36]:

BEGIN

Burbank Tower [BUR TWR]: Helicopter 2EX, Burbank tower Burbank altimeter 30.19. Burbank Class C surface area is IFR, say intentions

N72EX: …maintain special VFR, transition on the 101 westbound.

BUR TWR: Helicopter 2EX, hold outside Burbank Class Charlie [Class C] airspace. I have an aircraft going around.

N72EX: 2EX holding.

BUR TWR: It’s going to be a little bit. I have a citation on a niner mile final and then go around that I just had … is going to be turning base to file in about three minutes.

N72EX: Okay, we’ll continue holding; 2EX.

BUR TWR: NEcho2Ex, and for your planning purposes, you can expect to transition to the north side of the airport. I just spoke with Van Nuys [ATC] on the line, and they’ve got multiple IFR departures coming off of runway 16, so you can expect to follow the 5 north and cross that way.

N72EX: 2EX, no problem.

BUR TWR: 317P Burbank tower. You can expect a few minutes; I got a special VFR helicopter I need to get to transitioning. He’s been holding for about 15 minutes. … Northwest, follow the 5 Freeway. Maintain special VFR, special VFR conditions at or below 2,500 [feet].

BUR TWR: {Freeway route given to 2EX; told to “maintain VFR condition at or below 2500.”}

N72EX: Maintain special VFR at or below 2,500’, follow 5 northbound; 2EX.

BUR TWR: N2EX, roger, and you're cleared to Burbank Class C surface area from the southeast to the northwest.

N72EX: Copy that, we’ll maintain Special VFR; helicopter 2EX.

BUR TWR: Actually, for your transitioning to Camarillo [Airport], did you just want to follow the 118?

N72EX: 118 then we’ll loop [“go”] around Van Nuys to catch the 101; 2EX.

BUR TWR: Helicopter 2EX, roger.

BUR TWR: N2EX, continue following the 5 northwest bound to join the 118, and then Van Nuys will work you through. Radar service is terminated. Remain that squawk. Contact Van Nuys helicopters 119.0.

N72EX: 2EX switching to Van Nuys [airport tower]. 

N72EX: Van Nuys, helicopter 2EX with you for the Special VFR transition, we are currently at 1400’.”

Van Nuys Tower [VNY TWR]: Helicopter 72EX, Van Nuys tower. Wind calm, visibility 2 1/2, ceiling is 1,100’, overcast. Van Nuys altimeters is 30.16. Cleared into Van Nuys Class D northeast of Van Nuys along the 118 freeway westbound. Advise when you're in VFR conditions, or when you’re clear of the Van Nuys Class D. Transition at or below 2,500’.  

N72EX: 2EX, advise in VFR condition and then we stay on the 118 and we’re currently at 1,400 feet and we have 0235.

VNY TWR: Helicopter 72EX, thank you. And when you’re clear of Van Nuys D, did you wanna talk to Socal?

N72EX: Affirmative, 2EX.

N72EX: Tower, for 2EX, can we start - go ahead and start turning to the southwest for 101?

VNY TWR: Helicopter 72EX, approved, and are you transitioning in VFR conditions?

N72EX: VFR conditions, 1500’; 2EX.

[VNY TWR]: Helicopter 72EX, thank you. Contact Socal now 134.2 for flight following. 34.2.

N72EX: 34.2

[1] Socal Approach: Helicopter 72EX, ident.

{Screen message: “Be advised pilot is not heard do too poor audio receiver and/or too low altitude.” Time lapse: 4.85 seconds pass before next transmission.]

[2] Socal Approach: Helicopter 72EX, yeah, Your following a 1200 code. So you're requesting flight following?

{Time lapse: 2.30 seconds before very brief radio static is heard; total time before next transmission 4.99 seconds.} 

[3] Socal Approach: Helicopter 72EX, where – say intentions.

{Time lapse: 2.55 seconds before another very brief radio static is heard; total time before next transmission 3.07 seconds.} 

[4] Socal Approach: Helicopter 72EX, you're still too low level for flight following at this time.

{Time lapse: 3.28 seconds before another very brief radio static is heard; total time before next transmission 5:24 seconds.} 

{Screen message: “Radar contact lost.”}

[5] Socal Approach : “Helicopter 72EX, Socal?”

[Screen message: “No more communication is received. N72EX crashes near Calabasas.”}

END.[37]

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 KobeRookieRelaxing.jpg

What is noteworthy and easily overlooked is that each time So Cal sent out a transmission to the pilot after transmissions labeled [2], [3], and [4] above, a brief static or crackling is heard with the regularity and cadence of intervals that the pilot communicated with the previous two ATCs.

This indicates that the pilot heard So Cal those three times and attempted to promptly respond as he did with Burbank and Van Nuys but could not get through.

During these precise moments, the radar screen shows the helicopter moving in flight. Critically, from the time the pilot uttered his last words to Van Nuys ATC to the time radar contact was lost amounted to 30.5 seconds.

It was during these 30 seconds that, according to witnesses, he was hovering (“struggling”), looking for a place to land since he had ground visibility as required by VFR. Then, the (first) explosion happened.

Zobayan and Kobe likely had calm professionalism about them as they assured everyone on board that they’d be alright as a search was made for a safe place to land.

Given the sudden, unexpected explosion, they likely had no awareness of death.

The chopper hit the ground and gave off white smoke (again, as noted), which can be seen in pictures and videos currently online.

Conspiracy theorists claim that the pilot’s radio transmission was suddenly disabled, possibly by some remote jamming device, or by a pre-timed trigger.

As previously noted, when a helicopter crashes to the ground, a plume of dense black smoke arises, as can be seen from a helicopter crash caught on video (the same one referenced earlier).[38]

Of course, false, inaccurate, and misleading media reports are flying everywhere.

Little wonder, then, that Molly Carter, president of Kobe Inc., told the Los Angeles Times: “We ask members of the media for respect and responsible judgment during this difficult time. These inaccurate reports only add unnecessary pain to a grieving family.”[39]

Bottom Line: As stated above, Kobe’s camp is sorely troubled by “inaccurate reports” by the media. After all, is said and done, the bottom line is that you, the reader, will make the final decision as to who to believe, (1) government officials and media who arrived at the scene after the fact, or (2) the evidence and eyewitnesses and earwitnesses who saw heard what happen. 

Kobe Points to the Truth: (Please be advised that the information I am about to share here may be challenging to read.) “The common cruising altitude for most commercial airplanes is between 33,000 and 42,000 feet, or between about six and nearly eight miles above sea level.”[40]

This is well over 30 times higher than the altitude the NTSB said Kobe’s helicopter was when it supposedly slammed into the side of a hill. Yet, when one of the commercial airplanes crash, the bodies are still strapped into their seats.

This headline says as much: “Egypt plane crash: Recovery workers describe ‘tragic scene’ with victims steel strapped to their seats and wreckage.”[41]

Is this true also of children? The subtitle reads, “The bodies of at least five children have been recovered from the wreckage in Sinai so far.”

Finding passengers’ bodies in their seats happens even under some of the most extreme conditions. For example, just over a year ago, CBS News carried this headline: “Bodies from doomed Lion Air flight found strapped in seats on seafloor.”[42]

By way of contrast, descriptions of Kobe’s alleged crash site have all the earmarks of an above-ground explosion as opposed to a crash followed by a blast. “A piece of the tail is down the hill,” “the fuselage is on the other side of that hill,” and “the main rotor is about 100 yards (91 meters) beyond that.”[43]

To be sure, when Kobe’s small helicopter fell to earth from a mere 300 to 400 feet above ground according to eyewitness Alex Kockarian [Corrections: The name of the witness is Gerry Kochria, and he did not say that the helicopter fell from 300-400 feet to the ground.] The NTSB reported that the chopper was about 2,300 feet when it plunged 1,215 feet to crash into the hillside at 1,085 feet. From this altitude, it would be virtually impossible for the impact to sling debris in a wide area roughly the size of “a football field”[44] as described by Los Angeles County Sherriff Alex Villanueva. Being more precise, Villanueva revealed that all the debris was “roughly a hundred yards across in each direction.”

Gruesomely, if they had to identify Kobe Bryant--a towering man who was 6’ 6”, and whose body should have still been strapped intact in his seat--from his fingerprints,[45] then that means his body parts, along with those of the other victims, were strewn across an area the size of a football field in every direction, just as in the aftermath of a powerful explosion.  

To assert otherwise would strain credibility.

With his fingerprint, many of Kobe’s friends and admirers in law enforcement and the field of aviation say he’s pointing at the truth.

God’s Power and Justice: Whether the cause of Kobe’s death was (1) human error[46], (2) bad weather, or (3) foul play, God’s power or justice will prevail. Proof of this can be see in an brief consideration of each of these three points from a Scriptural perspective.

Human Error?: Human error would include both a mechanical malfunction and pilot error. When too many Christians erroneously crammed into a poorly ventilated hot, stuffy, third-story room to hear the apostle Paul speak into the wee hours of the morning, a young man sitting at the window fell into a deep sleep and accidently dropped to his death, God caused Paul to resurrect him (Acts 20:7-12).

In time, God will reverse all the disastrous effects of human error, including resurrecting dead victims.  

Bad Weather?: God demonstrated that he can control inclement weather when he empowered his Son to calm a raging storm (Matthew 8:23-27; Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-25). In the future restored paradise earth, worrisome or otherwise terrifying weather conditions caused by global warming or human mismanagement of the environment won’t exist, just as they did not exist in the peaceful and tranquil Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:8; Psalm 37:10-11, 29; Matthew 5:5).

Foul Play?: When King David committed adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of one of his prized soldiers named Uriah (2 Samuel 11:1-13), he devised an elaborate scheme to murder Uriah and have his death look like an accident (2 Samuel 11:14-25).

Today, we’d say David acted just like a powerful but discreet Mafia boss who put out a hit on somebody.[47] “Make it look like an accident,” he’d say.

But God saw and heard everything David said and did. In the end, the Lord made sure David paid dearly for the premeditated murder of his innocent, faithful soldier, Uriah (2 Samuel 12:1-23). Furthermore, God had the entire affair documented in the Bible for millions in multiple generations to read.

If Kobe was murdered and his death made to look like an accident, you can be assured that God’s vengeance will be visited upon everyone involved (Romans 12:19).

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Mambamania: USA Today and Sports Illustrated have conjured up some creative ways to honor Kobe[48] (one of them being like how Major League Baseball honored Jackie Robinson when it had all players wear his number 42[49] during the all-star game).

Also, fans are clamoring for an NBA logo change from the inimitable Jerry West to the matchless Koby Bryant.[50] But, will that really happen?

Is the Logo a No-Go?: If Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports has his way and is now the spokesman for the NBA, Kobe Bryant doesn’t stand a chance of being the new NBA logo.[51] Wetzel has gone so far as to suggest that the logo suddenly isn’t Jerry West. However, he admits that Jerry West himself (and the rest of civilization) clearly says it’s him and that he hopes they change it.

As of January 31, 2020, Newsweek reports that over three million people have signed an online petition to change the logo to Kobe Bryant,[52] and are on the same page with Gerald Adams of TalkBasketball.net, who wrote an article titled, “Kobe Bryant’s silhouette could be on the new NBA logo.”[53] The article contains attractive choices as to what the logo might look like.

Some see changing Crenshaw Blvd in Los Angeles to “Kobe Bryant Blvd” as a meaningful way to honor the Mamba.

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Kobe the Prophet?: Media witticisms regarding Kobe’s retired jersey numbers 8 and 24 are well known. But, is it possible that these two numbers hint of prophecy being fulfilled in our day?

Judge for yourself.

Regarding persistent and progressively worsening wars, rampant food shortages, widespread earthquakes, and false prophets peddling false hopes, Jesus said: “All of these are only the beginning pains of the end” (Matthew 24:8 [God’s Word Translation]). Happily, the “end” spoken of here is the end of this wicked world as we know it. “Soon the wicked will disappear. Though you look for them, they will be gone” (Psalm 37:10 [New Living Translation]).

Kobe’s Memorial of Biblical Proportions?: Africans living in Egypt when Joseph was prime minister practiced memorial ceremonies that have endured until our day. On one occasion, these Africans “held a very great and solemn memorial service” (Genesis 50:10 [New Living Translation]). Without a doubt, “it was a very impressive procession” (Genesis 50:9 [Christian Standard Bible]).

In fact, these Africans had a reputation for honoring the dead.

It was said of them, “‘funeral ceremonies are taken very seriously by the Egyptians.’ That’s why that place on the east side of the Jordan was named Abel Mizraim [Egyptian Funeral Ceremonies][54]” (Genesis 50:11 [God’s Word Translation]).

Fit for a pharaoh, we can all expect a “solemn memorial service,” “a very impressive procession,” as part of Kobe’s funeral ceremony.

Now that he has passed, the day of Kobe’s death becomes more important than the day he was born. “A good reputation is better than expensive perfume,” says the Bible, “and the day you die is better than the day you are born” (Ecclesiastes 7:1 [Good News Translation]).

Obviously, you have yet to establish a “good reputation” at birth. On the other hand, having lived a good life gives your name substance once you’re gone, which is why funerals, oddly, are more meaningful than birthdays.

Along these lines, African Christian scholar and theologian Origen of Alexandria, Egypt (c. 184 – c. 253 AD) is quoted in Kobe’s Catholic Encyclopedia as saying that “of all the holy people in the Scriptures, no one is recorded to have kept a feast or held a great banquet on his birthday. It is only sinners (like Pharaoh[55] and Herod[56]) who make great rejoicings over the day on which they were born.”[57]

Though still reeling from Kobe’s heart-wrenching death, the world now lurches forward to honor him on the day of his passing.

God’s Everlasting Arms: The Bible documents that when generous people like Kobe die, others are profoundly saddened (Acts 9:36-43). But even in this Bible account, there was a beautiful outcome. Ultimately, the same will doubtlessly happen to other generous souls who are resting in the bosom of God’s everlasting arms (Deuteronomy 33:27). 

The Final Analysis: In the overall scheme of things, God knows what's going to happen from beginning to end (Isaiah 46:10). With each of us individually, though, he pleads that we use our freedom of choice to choose life (Deuteronomy 30:19, 20) by turning from wicked ways (Ezekiel 33:11), hence, benefitting ourselves (Isaiah 48:17).

In the process, God can answer our Devil-accuser (Proverbs 27:11), who says we serve the Lord for selfish reasons (Job 2:2-5). Happily, during the infinitesimally small amount of suffering we currently endure (Romans 8:18), God will strengthen us (1 Peter 5:10, 11), knowing that we won't even recall our travails (Isaiah 65:17).

Finally, many share the sentiments of Los Angeles Clippers’ coach Doc Rivers, who cried the day Kobe died: “We’re all Lakers today.”

Kobe’s death made Los Angeles the capital of the world, at least for a day.

Given what the Bible says about the earthly resurrection (John 5:28-29; Acts 24:15), I would humbly add two words to Kobe’s, “Mamba out” … for now.

Heartfelt prayers for the families and friends of the seven other victims of the crash, listed here alphabetically by last name: (1) John Altobelli, his wife (2) Keri and their daughter (3) Alyssa; (4) Sarah Chester and her daughter (5) Payton;  (6) Christina Mauser; and the pilot (7) Ara Zobayan.

Peace and blessings to all. Amen.

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[2] If you dial 911 on a landline in Calabasas, you’ll get a dispatcher for either the Los Angeles County Sherriff’s Department or the Los Angeles County Fire Department (and paramedics). If you call 911 just across the highway in Woodland Hills on a landline, you’ll get either the Los Angeles Police Department or the Los Angele Fire Department (and paramedics). Incidentally, if you call on your cell phone from either place (or anywhere in California), you’ll get the California Highway Patrol.  

[3] On two other separate occasions, I also crossed paths with Lakers teammate Devean George and Gary Payton at the same restaurant.

[4] I’m assuming it was Natalia. I can’t say that I know for sure.

[5] Kobe had four daughters, just like Philip the evangelist (Acts 21:8-9).

[6] Mr. Bryant and I are from the same generation. At age 65, we’re about a month apart. He was born on October 19, 1954, while I was born on September 17, 1954.

[7] John and Alyssa were in the helicopter when it exploded. John was the coach of men’s baseball at Orange Coast College in California. The assistant coach, who is now acting head coach, told of John’s and Alyssa’s fondness of flying with Kobe and Gigi in a recent interview.

[9] Keep in mind that a helicopter gives you more landing options when it comes to shorter distances. You don’t need an airstrip and could virtually land anywhere.

[14] “Show me a righteous ruler and I will show you a happy people. Show me a wicked ruler and I will show you a miserable people” (Proverbs 29:2 [Good News Translation]).

[16] Same link as above.

[17] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJhz7VT2EMk [ESPN Sports video timeline 5:25-5:30]

[18] The significance of the color of the smoke is discussed below.

[24] I was sent a very upsetting photograph on Facebook of what appears to be an actual helicopter crash. If authentic, it appears to crash differently from Kobe’s helicopter crash. You can view the video here if it’s still available (https://www.facebook.com/100026132230808/videos/452597475621323/).

[28] The pilot and two different airport towers, all highly trained experts in the field, came to the same conclusion.

[33] Same as above.

[38] I was sent a very upsetting photograph on Facebook of what appears to be an actual helicopter crash. If authentic, it appears to crash differently from Kobe’s helicopter crash. You can view the video here if it’s still available (https://www.facebook.com/100026132230808/videos/452597475621323/).

[46] Which based on the evidence is highly unlikely and nearly impossible insofar as the pilot is concerned.

[47] Actually, it’s the other way around. The powerful Mafia boss would be acting like David!

[49] Interestingly, Kobe’s number 24 is Robinson’s jersey number 42 reordered.

[50] Allow me to digress here for a moment. As stated elsewhere in this chapter article, Jerry West was my Kobe Bryant as I was growing up. And as much as I love West (“Zeke from Cabin Creek”), I’ve felt for a long time that a logo change was overdue. Kobe, at this point, would be ideal. At first, Michael Jordan was my choice. But, thankfully, he’s still with us. Memorials usually go to those no longer with us, as is sadly the case with Kobe. Plus, Kobe and Michael are close enough talent-wise for Kobe to justifiably get the nod, although Jordan may have had a slight edge in his prime. After all, Michael is the cookie-cutter, and Kobe is the cookie. Actually, I think Magic Johnson would be the best choice. Why? Because while Michael is arguably the best one-on-one player the game has ever seen, Magic is probably the best team player that has ever played in the NBA. And, in case you haven’t notice, basketball is a team sport. Give Michael four average players in the other positions, and his team will make a deep playoff run. Give Magic four average players in the other positions, and he’ll take his team at the very least to the championship. Jordan may well average over 50 points a game but will likely tire out before the championship series. Magic would hit 50 if that’s what was needed to win, or, he’d ensure that someone on his team did to secure a win. And in case you think that because Michael has more championship rings (6) than Magic (5) or Kobe (5), that he’s the best team player, then think again. The fact is, having more rings is not a reliable indicator that you’re the best player. Here’s why: Persons that many of the younger generations have never heard of have far more NBA championship rings than Michael Jordan. For example, Bill Russell (11), Sam Jones (10), and Satch Sanders (8). None of these players in their prime would even come close to beating Michael one-on-one. Still, they each have more rings than Michael. Even with all this, if someone argued that Michael was the GOAT, they’d get no argument from me. By the way, if there was a rotating logo every decade, LeBron would be up next after Kobe.

[54] Brackets in the original.

[55] Genesis 40:20.

[56] Mark 6:17-29.