The pilot of the helicopter that crashed near Los Angeles, killing nine people on board including NBA great Kobe Bryant, told air traffic controllers in his last radio message that he was climbing to avoid a cloud layer before plunging more than 1,000 feet (305 meters) into a hillside, an accident investigator said.
Radar indicated the helicopter reached a height of 2,300 feet (701 meters) on Sunday morning before descending, and the wreckage was found at 1,085 feet (331 meters), Jennifer Homendy of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said.
NTSB investigators went to the crash site in Calabasas on Monday to collect evidence.
“The debris field is pretty extensive,” Homendy said. “A piece of the tail is down the hill. The fuselage is on the other side of that hill. And then the main rotor is about 100 yards (91 meters) beyond that.”
Some experts suggested that the pilot might have gotten disoriented because of fog, but Homendy said investigating teams would look at everything from the pilot’s history to the engines.