Who Is Ara Zobayan (Pilot Flying Kobe Bryant’s Helicopter) Bio, Wiki, Age, Family, Wife, Death
Ara Zobayan Biography
Ara Zobayan has been identified as the pilot who was flying Kobe Bryant’s helicopter when it crashed and burst into flames once it hit the ground, killing Ara and all eight passengers, which included Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Bryant.
Ara Zobayan Age
Ara was 50 years old at the time of his death.
Ara Zobayan Nationality
Ara was of Armenian descent.
Ara Zobayan Family
There is no available information about Ara’s family.
Ara Zobayan Pilot
Ara was a pilot who received his first private pilot license with a helicopter rating on January 21, 2001, and his commercial pilot license on December 3, 2007. According to Christina Pascucci, a KTLA reporter, he also a flying instructor, “he taught aspiring heli pilots to fly and was very much loved in the aviation community.”
He had previously learned to fly at Group 3 Aviation, an intimate flight school in Van Nuys, California. Claudia Lowry, the school’s president, said that Zobayan joined the academy in 1998. “This is where Ara learned to fly. This is where Ara worked. We’ve known him since 1998. He’s a dear friend and family.”
Zobayan worked as a flight instructor at Group 3, after he learned to fly. One of his students there, Darren Kemp, told the Los Angeles Times that Zobayan had worked as Bryant’s private pilot for some time.
He was a licensed instrument pilot, which means that he was trained on the safety and navigational tools needed to fly under poor weather conditions. According to Gregor at the FAA, he added an instrument rating to his private pilot license on October 20, 2007.
Ara Zobayan Island Express
Zobayan was a pilot at Island Express Holding Corporation, the family-owned helicopter charter company that contracts with Catalina Island to do local tours and was listed as the owner of the plane that crashed Sunday. The plane was a Sikorsky S-76B which was nearly 30 years old at the time of the crash, having spent several years in the possession of the state of Illinois before getting sold to Island Express in 2015.
Ara Zobayan ‘Celebrity Wife Swap’
In July 2013 Ara appeared in an episode of ‘Celebrity Wife Swap’ which featured Andy Dick and Lorenzo Lamas. A Facebook post from Lamas at the time read, “Tune in to ABC this Sunday 8pm to see Ara and me fly Andy Dick’s baby momma around on ‘Celebrity Wife Swap’ lol.”
Ara Zobayan Kobi Bryant
Ara was flying Kobi’s private helicopter which crashed on January 26, 2020. The FAA confirmed that the helicopter involved in the crash was a Sikorsky S-76, with the registration N72EX — the same number that could be seen on Kobe’s private helicopter in previous photos. According to online records Kobe sold the helicopter to IEX Helicopters after his retirement. He however continued to rent the helicopter from time to time.
A tweeter user confirmed that Ara was a close friend with the Bryant family; “Working for the aviation business has allowed me to meet some pretty amazing people and pilots. Ara was one of them. Always so nice, talkative and especially attentive when it came to Kobe and his family. I’m heartbroken.”
Ara Zobayan Death
Ara died on January 26, 2020 in a plane crash that killed Kobe Bryant and seven others. They were heading to a basketball game at his Mamba Sports Academy in Newbury Park. Kobe was the coach of Gianna’s team. The helicopter passed over Boyle Heights near Dodger Stadium and circled over Glendale during the flight. It was in a climbing left turn 2,400 feet above sea level, then descended at a rate of 4,000 feet per minute (45 miles per hour) and struck the ground.
Friends have identified the pilot as
Ara Zobayan. He taught aspiring heli pilots to fly and was very much loved in the aviation community. They wrote “rest easy as you take your final flight to heaven.”@KTLA #KobeBryant pic.twitter.com/8pQh9eNJTk
— Christina Pascucci (@ChristinaKTLA) January 27, 2020
The cause of the crash is still under investigation. The Los Angeles Times’ Richard Winton tweeted that prior to the crash, the mountains around Calabasas were “fogged in.”
Small plane crash on Las Virgenes on the mountains, which are fogged in right now. I heard the plane splutter and then a boom.
— Richard Winton (@LAcrimes) January 26, 2020
The Sun reported that the air traffic control told the pilot that he was flying too low. “Two echo x-ray you are still too low for flight following at this time,” the controller says.
They also reported that the pilot had planned to land at Burbank Airport but circled for 15 minutes waiting for clearance. According to Radar Online, an air traffic control tower employee said, ‘hold outside Burbank, I have an aircraft.’ At around 9:30 am a flight tower employee said, “He’s been holding for about 15 minutes.”
At the moment before the crash the helicopter limbed to 2000ft and then hit the mountain at 1700 ft. New York Post reported that a source said that the pilot was in charge of the aircraft when it hit the ground, which points to him becoming disorientated rather than mechanical failure.
The other victims were Gianna’s teammates, Payton Chester and Alyssa Altobelli, Payton’s mom, Sarah Chester, Alyssa’s parents, John and Keri Altobelli, and basketball coach, Christina Mauser.