Patriots’ Bill Belichick Shares Touching Tribute to Lakers’ Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant

Getty Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant.

It has been a couple days since TMZ sent shockwaves through the sports world and throughout the rest of the national news when the platform released its report that Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant had passed away. The cause his helicopter crashed in Calabasas, California Bryant, was just 41 years old. However, Bryant was not the only victim on board; his 13-year-old daughter, along with seven other passengers were en route to Kobe’s Mamba Academy when the Helicopter went down due to bad weather conditions.

According to Forbes’ Jeremy Bogaisky, the helicopter transporting Kobe Bryant and the eight other passengers owned by a charter company that apparently only operated under visual flight rules and weren’t permitted to fly solo. Based on the way the cockpit gauges are layout if they encounter weather issues that hinder visibility, a former pilot shared with Bogaisky.

Per Bogaisky, the pilot Ara Zobayan was licensed to fly by cockpit instruments. Still, he likely didn’t have any real-world experience flying in those types of weather conditions given the operating limitations of Island Express Helicopters, says Kurt Deetz, who is a former pilot for the company who flew Bryant for two years.

According to, it’s a Long Beach-based company that has seven helicopters registered to it, and a related holding corporation is certified under Part 135 of FAA regulations to provide on-demand charter services.

According to Deetz, The regulations impose tight specifications on how air carriers operate, including what kind of weather conditions they can fly in. It’s financially demanding and time-consuming for a company to ensure it and its pilots can operate under instrument flight rules, or IFR.

“I don’t think he had any actual [experience] inside the clouds,” says Deetz, who notes that it can be unnerving for pilots limited to operating under visual flight rules, or VFR. “You spend your whole career thinking, ‘I shouldn’t do this.”

“You can spend all this money and maybe get three flights a year that you do IFR,” said Deetz, 54, who has flown helicopters in the L.A. area for 30 years.”

However, according to Heavy’s Paul Farrell, Zobayan was an instrument-rated pilot, meaning that he was qualified to fly in fog conditions. Rusty Barnes, the chief pilot of Barnes Aviation in Rockford, Illinois, told Farrell by email, “If you are on Instruments in IMC conditions, in this case, Ara was flying on what’s called Special VFR or SVFR and not flying on Instruments at the time of the accident. SVFR refers to Special VFR, which allows a pilot to fly in lower visibility in controlled airspace. When giving flight reviews to helicopter pilots, I ask what that means. Occasionally, I am told that SVFR is not permitted at that airport.”

Bill Belichick on Kobe Bryant Passing Away

England Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick like so many other sports figures and celebrities, paid his respects to the fallen legend.

“This is an extremely sad time for the entire sports community,” said Belichick via Field Yates. “In my 45 years in the NFL, I have never witnessed a group as captivated as the day Kobe addressed our team [in 2018]. The respect and reverence he commanded far exceeded him being a legendary player. He was a special person with an unmatched passion, intensity, and mentality toward achieving his goals.”

The Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers were scheduled to play against each other on Tuesday night, but the game was postponed due to the passing of Kobe Bryant and the other eight victims.

READ NEXT: Kobe Bryant’s Former Body-Double Recalls a Conversation They Had on Guitar Hero Commercial Set