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Veteran air traffic controller analyzes Kobe helicopter crash

Helicopter crash victims

Air traffic controller worked with late pilot on occasion

YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - A crash that claimed the lives of nine people including Kobe Bryant, his daughter and some of her teammates has the world grieving to this day.

The crash also claimed the life of the pilot.

David Smith worked as an air traffic controller for more than 20 years said he served as the eyes and ears for the pilot, Ara Zobayan at times.

He said Zobayan was very professional.

He explained while he worked his job in the sky he had many instances where something went wrong in the air. After years on the job he explained it became second nature to jump into action, although it is always nerve-racking for the pilot.

“One time there was a student at Orange County airport doing panel work which is coming around and practicing and the clouds moved in and luckily we were able to work him out of there and back over to the airport," explained Smith, former air traffic controller.

He shared the procedures he would follow if things didn’t go quite as expected.

"If they’re in the air and they call an emergency you pretty much dedicate your time and effort towards them. You call out in the tower of getting more help, extra eyes and ears to help you at the time and you take their requests of what they want,” explained Smith.

He said that the types of aircraft Zobayan would fly came out of terminals meant for general aviation.

Smith, unfortunately, does not think that the wait time ahead of landing would have changed the tragic outcome.

The ultimate cause of the crash that impacted the country will not be released for at least a year.

Arizona News / State & Regional News / Top Stories
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Ciara Encinas

Ciara Encinas is an Emmy award-winning multimedia journalist who joined the KYMA in May 2018.


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